Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Your Next Car May Feature Gorilla Glass

Anyone familiar with Smartphone technology know the name Corning Gorilla Glass. The ultra-durable glass is used in the displays of Apple's iPhones, Samsung's Galaxy devices and a large number of other mobile devices; it can be found in 1.5 billion electronic devices today. But the next market for the lightweight material might surprise you! The company is looking to auto manufactures looking to replacing some of their standard glass used on the windows of automobiles.

With today's trend to create quieter and more fuel efficient cars auto maker are constantly looking for new more effective ways to make lighter vehicles and improve fuel economy. Using Gorilla Glass would help reduce a vehicle’s weight and lower its center of mass, boosting fuel economy by up to a few percentage points depending on how much of the glass is used, according to Corning senior vice president Jeffrey Evenson, who was speaking after MIT Technology Review’s Mobile Summit in San Francisco today. Cars that use the material will also be quieter inside, he said. He expects at least one high-end auto maker to start making cars that use some Gorilla Glass within the next year.

Automobiles are just one of a few new application Corning exploring for their durable Gorilla Glass. The company is also working on the next generation of its display materials for other markets. For example, Evenson said he hopes that Corning’s development-stage “antimicrobial” glass will be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency within the next few months. The material would initially be used in the health-care industry to keep device interactions more sanitary, but smartphones are also a possibility. “The bacteria are obliterated,” he says. “The number of germs on a smartphone exceeds the number of germs on a public toilet. We think there might be a bigger market.”

The most anticipated product on the horizon for Corning, however, is Willow Glass, a material that is flexible like plastic and as thin as a dollar bill but has the durability and stability of glass (see “Glass Manufacturing That Bends the Rules”). Evenson believes that Willow Glass could spur the creation of “hundreds of new products,” ranging from flexible displays that conform to the human body to new insulating layers in semiconductors that will help sustain the continued progress of Moore’s Law.

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