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Rollable glass

New Willow Glass is rollable and paper-thin

Glass could be used for lighting and solar cells as well as smartphones

Corning’s new thin and bendy Willow Glass.

“Corning’s latest display glass technology, Willow Glass, launched Monday at a trade show in Boston. Willow Glass is glass spun extremely thin and flexible enough to roll into two-inch radius tubes, thanks to a manufacturing process similar to that used to make newsprint.

Corning, the company that makes the Gorilla Glass widely used in smartphone displays, uses roll-to-roll processes to make Willow Glass. The material is processed at temperatures of up to 500º C and rolled out over many cylinders (a rendering of the process is posted on YouTube). The result is a scratch-resistant, bendable sheet that measures 100 microns thick, about the same as a sheet of paper.

Willow Glass performs “exceptionally well” with touch sensors, so it will make a natural pairing with the curved smartphone designs that are all the rage, like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and HTC One X. Corning further notes that the glass could be used in flexible solar cells and lighting. Spinning possible uses out further, we could see the glass used to make e-books into a physical manifestation of their pulpy predecessors—books with glass pages instead of paper ones. In photos, Willow Glass appears pliable enough that it can roll into a two-inch radius, and the PDF fact sheet shows that the 0.1mm thick Willow Glass can bend to a 5cm radius before reaching significant bend stress.

Corning has only started to send samples of the materials to customers, so it may be some time until Willow Glass appears on the market. However, the cost of Willow Glass shouldn’t be too high: the company says the roll-to-roll process is very efficient and has high throughput.”

This is the kind of stuff that excites the imagination of Jules Verne denizens (like me).



Posted on: June 28, 2012, 7:06 am Category: Uncategorized

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