Glass Enables Flexible Displays

Corning Inc. is advancing the vision of flexible displays with the launch of Corning Willow Glass, an ultra-thin flexible glass.

When used in conjunction with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology, a process by which displays are built by spraying substrates on to glass, Willow Glass allows displays to be wrapped around a device or structure.

OLED makers will also be able to take advantage of a manufacturing technology that could increase production volume and decrease expenses. Flexible substrates can be used in roll-to-roll manufacturing processes (similar to the way newspapers are printed) to produce OLEDs in high volumes.

Willow Glass will support thinner backplanes and color filters for both OLED and liquid crystal displays (LCD) in high-performance, portable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and notebook computers, Corning said in a press release. This new, ultra-slim flexible glass will also help develop conformable (curved) displays for immersive viewing or mounting on nonflat surfaces.

Corning also said in the release:

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 Dr. 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 says it is shipping samples of its Willow Glass to customers developing display and touch applications. The company also is collaborating with research institutions, customers, and equipment makers to develop an ecosystem of compatible processes and equipment, including optimized process designs.

6 comments on “Glass Enables Flexible Displays

  1. Cryptoman
    June 5, 2012

    I think if the price is right the flexible LCD technology will find a huge market besides smartphones.

    One area I can think of is advertisements we see on buildings and similar places. The trend in architecture these days is building curved structures. Therefore, the flexible LCD technology will allow making use of curved surfaces to be used for animated advertisements.

    Another application is of course wearable computing. With the new LCD technology, it will be possible to have a touchscreen user interface that comfortably wraps around the sleeve of a shirt. It is not hard to imagine a screensaver on such LCDs that have the same pattern as the shirt itself so that when the LCD is on standby, it becomes indiscernible on your outfit. In the near future you will be able to wear high tech and yet manage to look stylish, thanks to this new flexible LCD technology!


  2. elctrnx_lyf
    June 6, 2012

    I think these inventions again n again prove the end less opportunities in the future of technology. These displays could one day serve the purpose mood varied window curtains or could floor the room with indefinite number of designs.

  3. Barbara Jorgensen
    June 6, 2012

    All the possible applications are cool, but I also think flexible screen are less likely to shatter!

  4. Cryptoman
    June 7, 2012

    Shatter proofness is certainly a huge advantage Barbara. I also think that the flexible LCDs will be more resilient to scratches which will ensure crisp looking images for a long time. In ordinary glass screens, scratches do effect the user experience I think.

    All in all, flexible LCDs get a “thumbs up” from me!

  5. dalexander
    June 8, 2012

    Camoflage comes to mind. A rear facing camera taking a real-time video of what is behind the moving person or object with the image forwarded to the front facing flexible display. Anyone seeing the display would see what is behind the camoflaged person without seeing the person behind the display.

  6. Barbara Jorgensen
    June 8, 2012

    Camo is a great application, for people as well as Humvees, drones, planes and tanks. Book covers–if books still exist in the future, can full cover displays that change and provide information about the book…the advertising possibilites are endless, although that's the last thing I need–any more ads competing for my attention. But someone has to fund the development of these things…

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