Corning's new Gorilla Glass 4 display coverings for mobile devices will be at least two times stronger than screen surfaces from competitors, helping to further reduce screen damage when devices are accidentally dropped onto hard surfaces.
Screen breakage from accidental device falls is the most common complaint from consumers when they discuss their mobile devices, the company said.
The new Gorilla Glass 4 technology was unveiled by Corning on Nov. 20 at its headquarters in Corning, N.Y., where it announced the next generation of its display glass product line. Scratch- and damage-resistant Gorilla Glass was first launched in 2007 and is now used by more than 40 device manufacturers, including Samsung, BlackBerry, ZTE, Motorola, Microsoft, LG and Acer, in almost 1,400 devices, according to Corning.
The new Gorilla Glass 4 will survive up to 80 percent of the time when a device is dropped onto a hard surface from one meter in height, the company states. Traditional glass, also called soda-lime glass, breaks nearly 100 percent of the time in such situations.
"Corning Gorilla Glass has outperformed competing materials, such as soda-lime glass and other strengthened glass, since it was introduced in 2007, and we're always innovating to push the limits of what glass can do," James R. Steiner, senior vice president and general manager of Corning Specialty Materials, said in a statement. "With Gorilla Glass 4, we have focused on significantly improving protection against sharp contact damage, which is the primary reason that mobile devices break. Dropping and breaking a phone is a common problem, and one that our customers have asked us to help address."
To improve Gorilla Glass 4 over the Gorilla Glass 3 that preceded it, Corning scientists examined hundreds of broken devices and found that sharp contact with the ground accounted for more than 70 percent of display glass breakage, according to the company. To better fight the problem, Corning scientists then developed new drop-test methods that truly simulated real-world device screen breakage scenarios, based on thousands of hours of analyzing cover glass that had broken in the field or laboratory.
The one-meter drop tests onto rough surfaces helped researchers improve the strength of Gorilla Glass in its latest iteration.
Corning uses the company's proprietary "fusion draw process" to manufacture Gorilla Glass 4. The fusion draw process maintains the thinness, durability and optical clarity in Gorilla Glass, while also improving its drop performance.
Gorilla Glass 4 still won't be "unbreakable," but its added strength can help prevent screen breakage in an expanding number of cases.
No schedule for when Gorilla Glass 4-equipped devices will be available to consumers has yet been announced, but product sampling and shipments of Gorilla Glass 4 are under way with Corning's global customers, the company said.
Gorilla Glass isn't the only device screen innovation that Corning is working on. The company is also researching flexible glass displays, though they may still be at least two years down the road before they begin appearing on the market in early 2016, according to an eWEEK report in March 2013.
Announced back in June 2012, the ultra-slim flexible glass, called Willow Glass, has the potential to enable displays to be wrapped around a device or structure, potentially revolutionizing the shape and form of next-generation consumer electronic technologies.
Willow Glass is also produced using Corning's proprietary fusion process. The company said advances in fusion forming have made it possible to produce glass that is 100 microns thick—about the thickness of a sheet of copy paper.