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The future of telephones: What is folding glass?

The future of telephones: What is folding glass?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip It is the first foldable glass screen phone. Earlier devices, such as the infamous Samsung Galaxy Fold, had plastic screens. Flexible glass technology is essential for making more foldable phones and tablets.

Upgrade : Samsung’s «folding bottle» on the Galaxy Z Flip may not be all it seems. But the technology is still interesting, and Corning is working hard on solid folding glass. (Samsung has not used Corning technology, which is still under development and is discussed below.)

Foldable glass cannot be folded; He simply bends over

«Folding bottle» is a wrong name. Folding glass shades do not fold completely; there are no sharp wrinkles as if you were folding a sheet of paper. Instead, the glass bends.

When a device like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is closed, there is a gap between the two halves of the bottle. There are also raised edges around the screen, which prevent both sides of the glass from touching directly when closed.

In other words, folding glass is a type of ultra-thin glass that can be bent hundreds of thousands of times without breaking. It cannot be folded so that both sides touch.

Bending test of a Corning flexible glass prototype.

Flexible glass is not completely new

Different types of companies are working on this technology. Samsung seems to be receiving ultra-thin folding glass from the Korean manufacturer Doowoo insysBut he didn’t talk much about technology.

Corning, which makes tough, damage-resistant glass used on the iPhone and many other smartphones, is also hard to work on flexible glass for electronic devices. Corning already produces a type of flexible glass called “ Willow bottle «.

Flexible glass is not completely new. According to Claudio Mazzali, Corning’s senior vice president of optical communications technology Fast company that Corning has been bending the bottle for almost 50 years. Corning has created flexible fiberglass for fiber optic cables, which he said can be bent at a 90-degree angle and still work perfectly.

While flexible glass is not new, one of the challenges is to make it ultra thin. Corning Tech said Polly Chu CNET that «in order to go on a narrow radius of curvature, you have to go for a glass that is much, much thinner than what you have today.» The thinner it becomes, the more it can bend.

How to make flexible glass work in phones

A scientist holding a piece of flexible Corning glass.

Making flexible ultra-thin glass is a big enough challenge, but how do you take the thinner and thinner glass and make it as hard and damage-resistant as the Gorilla glass in today’s smartphones?

It’s easy to forget how impressive Gorilla Glass and similar technologies are – the glass on a modern smartphone screen can knock without breaking or even scratching. Gorilla glass is harder than ordinary metals. Let’s take this for granted.

John Bayne, who runs the Gorilla Glass business in Corning, explained the challenge Wired:

«In a glass solution, you really defy the laws of physics, in the sense that to get a very narrow radius of curvature, you want to become thinner and thinner, but you have to be able to survive a drop event and to withstand harm «.

Bayne said Corning is working to maintain the flexibility of the glass while improving damage resistance. He told Wired he was implementing Corning’s existing Willow Glass of the ion exchange process that creates a strong Gorilla Glass would make Willow Glass less flexible.

Corning still expects flexible glass for electronics to be popular in the coming years. So how do Corning and other production companies solve the challenges? This is the kind of work that these companies will not disclose publicly. After all, they have a lot of competitors and the race has begun.

Why folding the bottle is so important

Into the Galaxy Z Flip reveals videoSamsung says it has «made a leap» from polymer (plastic) displays to ultra-thin folding glass. It’s not just an impressive technological leap. Glass is a better material for a smartphone screen.

To avoid the challenges of flexible glass, foldable devices such as Samsung Galaxy Fold, and Motorola Razr Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold They have plastic screens that feel like a plastic screen protector. It probably doesn’t feel as good as a glass screen, but this is the least of your worries. These soft plastic screens are much easier to scratch and hit than glass. Motorola actually says that “ swelling and lumps are normal „On your Razr foldable smartphone with plastic screen.

With a glass screen, you won’t have «swellings or swellings» on the screen. They will also not scratch or damage as easily as plastic. That’s why today’s smartphones, from iPhones to Android phones, have glass touch screens. Glass is a much more durable material that will withstand better in real conditions. Your fingernail will not damage a glass screen, but it could easily leave a dent in a plastic screen.

Are folding devices the future? Our Review Geek colleagues certainly think so . Either way, flexible glass is the future of folding devices.