Corning has unveiled a flexible material called Willow Glass that measures just 0.1 millimeters thin, or about the same thickness as a strand of fine human hair. The material will maintain all of the properties of their glass substrates available now and furthermore, Corning will make Willow Glass available to smartphone makers this month.
Corning explains that current displays are comprised of multiple layers, including a glass substrate, thin film transistor array, a cover glass with color filter and another piece of glass for the touch sensor followed by another sheet of cover glass. This entire sandwich of components adds up to around 2-3mm thick.
With Willow Glass, Corning expects this figure to drop to less than 1mm overall. It may not sound like much but in an already-thin smartphone, it could make a huge difference.
Other benefits of the new technology include the ability to easily create curved displays or ones that could be flexed during use. Low-cost flexible solar panels could be another potential use for Willow Glass. The company also explained that OLEDs could even be printed on the glass which would be molded into a lamp shade. The lamp shade would provide lighting instead of a light bulb within.
Corning says that the technology will ultimately lead manufacturers to “pursue high-temperature, continuous "roll-to-roll" processes – similar to how newsprint is produced - that have been impossible until now.” This would allow glass to be manufactured at a much higher rate than is currently possible and lower overall operating costs.
The company will be giving a presentation on the technology at Display Week 2012 in Boston later this week.