Will Your Next Windshield be Gorilla Glass?
Staff posted on January 25, 2018 |
Engineers discuss new applications for strong, transparent materials.
A Corning technician examines a hybrid windshield made with tough, thin, lightweight Gorilla Glass. (Image courtesy of Corning.)
A Corning technician examines a hybrid windshield made with tough, thin, lightweight Gorilla Glass. (Image courtesy of Corning.)
Chemically toughened glass already keeps cell phone screens (mostly) crack-free, and now this type of glass is starting to make its mark in the auto industry in car windshields.

According to a recent article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, Gorilla Glass and similar strong, transparent materials could soon make an appearance in even more consumer products.

A century ago, a French artist and chemist named Edouard Benedictus accidentally came upon the idea of chemically strengthen glass when he knocked over a glass beaker containing nitrocellulose and found that the glass shards stayed together. Inspiration struck, and Benedictus developed a safety-glass laminate composed of two layers of plate glass that sandwiched a cellulose film—a concept still in use today in modern bulletproof or "ballistic" glasses.

In an industry standard test simulating the effects of a sharp stone striking a windshield, researchers fire a diamond-tipped dart (silver) at the targets. These video frames show that a conventional laminate windshield (left) sustains a deep crack, with radial fractures extending 15 mm. In a lighter, thinner Gorilla Glass hybrid laminate, the impact forms just a small chip. (Image courtesy of Corning.)
In an industry-standard test simulating the effects of a sharp stone striking a windshield, researchers fire a diamond-tipped dart (silver) at the targets. These video frames show that a conventional laminate windshield (left) sustains a deep crack, with radial fractures extending 15 mm. In a lighter, thinner Gorilla Glass hybrid laminate, the impact forms just a small chip. (Image courtesy of Corning.)
These products involve several layers of glass and polymers laminated together. They're strong and durable, but much too heavy, thick and expensive for most everyday consumer applications.

Enter chemically toughened glasses.

These materials are made by immersing glass in a molten salt bath that causes potassium ions to replace some of the sodium ions on the glass surface. The glass in EpiPen injectors, Gorilla Glass and Dragontail are current examples.

Corning and Ford recently teamed up to create light-weight hybrid windshields with a layer of Gorilla Glass, and last year marked the debut of the new material in the GT sports car. Experts predict that the hybrid glass could someday make its way into wearable electronic devices, hurricane-resistant windows for buildings and tough pharmaceutical vials.  

For more news from Corning, find out why the company received Apple’s First Advanced Manufacturing Fund Investment.

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