Credit: Corning

Credit: Corning via Technology Review.

Corning announced it has developed a flexible glass substrate that can be used for printed electronics applications. The glass manufacturer says the product performs like glass and is as flexible as plastic. The display is 75 micrometers thick and wholly protected by plastic.

I expect to hear more about Corning’s glass line two weeks from now. David Morse, senior vice president and director of research at Corning, will be a key presenter highlighting emerging business and technology opportunities at the upcoming Ceramic Leadership Summit, June 21-22 in Baltimore, Md. Morse’s presentation, which also includes Rodney Lanthorne, director of Kyocera and Joel Moskowitz, president & CEO of Ceradyne, will provide perspectives on the economic, political, societal, technological and environmental opportunities and challenges facing the technologies community. Innovations such as flexible glass substrates will be part of this vision of the future of technology.

According to Technology Review, Corning currently supplies more than half the display glass used to make LCDs. But as consumers increasingly adopt portable electronics where weight, durability and energy efficiency are more critical, new display technologies are emerging that may better meet these needs, and challenge the dominance of LCDs.

Corning’s website states that flexible displays made from plastic are quickly being created to answer a consumer desire for rugged, portable displays.

“Corning’s researchers are working on flexible glass substrates, which will enable high-resolution flexible displays for consumer devices, including e-book readers. These displays consume much less power than other technologies, and have the potential to replace paper in many applications.

“Our proprietary fusion process is uniquely suited to creating flexible substrates of pristine surface quality that can enable roll-to-roll processing for low-cost manufacturing of large-area electronics. The dimensional stability and thermal capability of the glass supports high-performance color frontplanes and backplanes.”

“Glass is a great surface for building thin-film devices on,” says Carl Taussig, director of the Information Surfaces Lab at Hewlett-Packard Labs, via Technology Review.

Corning has sent out samples of the flexible glass to manufacturing partners to test on roll-to-roll manufacturing lines.

To put this in perspective, Corning seems to becoming the dominating force in advance glass for electronic applications. Corning won’t tell you this, but it’s no coincidence that Apple is touting essentially the same properties in the heavily hyped glass used on both sides of the new iPhone 4. It doesn’t look like the new iPhone uses this new line of flexible glass, but Corning seems to have the ability to custom design glass to certain specs like Apple’s. The new iPhone’s glass probably lies in some sweetspot among the properties found in this new extremely flexible glass, Corning’s recyclable Eagle XG glass and its ultrastrong Gorilla Glass.