Launched this summer, Corning’s Willow Glass is an ultra-thin (0.1mm), flexible, roll-processable glass sheet intended for use in next-generation display devices. From an applications point of view, it offers the possibility of curved displays and/or interfaces that wrap around objects or devices, and from a manufacturing point of view, the possibility of producing displays using continuous “roll-to-roll” assembly, kind of like how bulk paper goods are processed. This (rather dry) video illustrates the idea.
Willow Glass is available with or without a coating of indium-tin oxide (ITO), the ubiquitous transparent conductor used in the manufacture of flat-panel displays, solar panels, organic LEDs, and other optoelectronic devices. Chemically, it is a borosilicate glass, kind of like Pyrex. Unlike Pyrex, however, Willow Glass is “alkali-free,” meaning it has been specially formulated to contain none of the periodic table’s Group I elements—no lithium, sodium, potassium, etc.—which are undesirable in device manufacture because of their relatively high chemical reactivity.