Digital Life

Gorilla Glass coming to cars

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Come 2014, Corning could be bringing its hardy Gorilla Glass to the automobile market.

The company's durable glass technology is currently used in the displays of 1.5 billion electronic devices.

According to Corning senior VP, Jeffrey Evenson, the use of Corning's Gorilla Glass in car windows would reduce the vehicle's weight and lower its centre of mass, which would improve fuel efficiency. Speaking at MIT's Technology Review Mobile Summit 2013, in San Francisco, he said the move to Gorilla Glass would help automobile manufacturers make their cars lighter and thus more economical.

The specialised glass is made using ion exchange, a chemical-strengthening process that basically packs ions into the glass surface, making it stronger and preventing cracks. Not only will this protect a car windscreen should it be hit by something like hail or a stray cricket ball, it will also make car cabins quieter, Evenson noted

With all these benefits, Evenson expects at least one high-end automaker to use Gorilla Glass in its cars within the next year, although he did not reveal which one.

When Corning's 2013 first-quarter profit outdid analysts' expectations back in April, helped by smartphone and tablet demand no doubt, the company said it viewed touch-screen PC notebooks as its next growth area. This recent announcement indicates that further expansion is on the cards for Corning.

According to Evenson, that is indeed the case.

Corning is already in the development phases of creating "antimicrobial" glass to initially be used in the healthcare industry. "The number of germs on a smartphone exceeds the number of germs on a public toilet. We think there might be a bigger market," he said, adding that the antibacterial glass will keep device interactions more sanitary.

Corning's most eagerly anticipated product is Willow Glass, which is expected to be introduced later this year. This advanced glass material has the durability and stability of glass but is as flexible as plastic and as thick as a dollar bill. Evenson predicts that Willow Glass will see the creation of malleable devices - with displays that conform to the human body. According to researchers for the glassmaker, this bendable glass is complicated to mass produce, so the world will just have to wait and see if Willow Glass enjoys the same commercial success as its predecessor.

Joanne Carew
ITWeb Cape-based contributor.

Joanne Carew is an ITWeb Cape-based contributor.

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