Flexible glass enables development of thinner displays and lighting objects

June 05, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
An ultra-slim flexible glass could revolutionize the shape and form of next-generation consumer electronic technologies, including displays and perhaps OLED luminaries: The Corning Willow Glass, introduced by chemical company Corning Inc. The company made the announcement today at the Society for Information Display's Display Week, an industry tradeshow in Boston.

Corning Willow Glass will enable thin, light and cost-efficient applications including today's slim displays and the smart surfaces of the future. The thinness, strength, and flexibility of the glass has the potential to enable displays to be “wrapped” around a device or structure. As well, the material can be processed at temperatures up to 500° C. High temperature processing capability is essential for today's high-end displays, and is a processing condition that cannot be supported with polymer films. Corning Willow Glass will enable the industry to pursue high-temperature, continuous roll-to-roll processes – similar to how newsprint is produced – that have been impossible until now.

It will enable the design of thinner backplanes and color filters for both organic light emitting diodes (OLED) and liquid crystal displays (LCD) in high-performance, portable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and notebook computers. This flexible glass will also help develop conformable (curved) displays for immersive viewing or mounting on non-flat surfaces.

Corning Willow Glass is formulated to perform exceptionally well for electronic components such as touch sensors, as well as leveraging glass's natural hermetic properties as a seal for OLED displays and other moisture and oxygen-sensitive technologies.

“Displays become more pervasive each day and manufacturers strive to make both portable devices and larger displays thinner. Corning Willow Glass provides the substrate performance to maintain device quality in a thin and light form factor,” said Dipak Chowdhury, division vice president and Willow Glass program director. “Currently manufacturing in a sheet-to-sheet process, we expect Corning Willow Glass to eventually allow customers to switch to high-throughput, efficient roll-to-roll processing, a long-awaited industry milestone.”

Corning Willow Glass is produced using the company’s proprietary fusion process. 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. Even at that thickness, it provides hermetic sealing to sensitive components, while also providing excellent optical, thermal,