A common feature found on nearly every smartphone is the use of Gorilla Glass or similar materials. This tough glass can resist scratches and other damage inflicted upon it by keys, coins, and even sandpaper.
Gorilla Glass started as a brand name for Corning’s line of protective coverings. Today, the term has become an umbrella term for all toughened mobile device screen covers.
The history of this material is serendipitous. According to the story, in 1952, one of the popular chemists of the company Don Stookey mistakenly increased the temperature of the furnace from 600 to 900 degrees Celsius because of a faulty controller.
He then expected that the photosensitive glass, which he invented for Corning, would melt and destroy the furnace. Instead, he saw a “milky white plate” that didn’t break when he accidentally dropped it.
Gorilla glass is made of soda-lime glass, which is composed primarily of silicon dioxide (SiO2). It consists of very thin sheets of this glass, which are chemically treated to enhance their strength.
This treatment process involves ions being embedded into the surface and strengthening it through atomic bonding, leaving the outermost layers intact.
What Are the Benefits of Gorilla Glass?
Since its discovery in the 1950s, there’s no looking back for the Gorilla Glass. In 2017 alone, at least 5 billion devices, from smartphones to televisions, used it. But what makes it so popular is its long list of supposed benefits:
1. Shatter Resistance
The primary benefit of Gorilla Glass is that it makes the screen shatter-resistant. Many people have accidentally dropped their phone on the ground and had to replace the screen, but that won’t happen very often with this special glass.
Mohs scale of mineral hardness is often used to describe how hard material is. The higher up you go on the scale, the harder it becomes for most objects to scratch their surface.
The average human can scratch most minerals with a fingernail (2), so corundum (9) would be considered tough because it’s difficult for humans to scratch. Diamond (10), however, is extremely rare and valuable not only because it is extremely hard but also because of its large applications industry, where its durability and strength are highly required.
Gorilla Glass has a Mohs hardness of around 5 or 6, which is even harder than the average human fingernail. The ability to resist scratching makes it more difficult for substances to damage the surface, although that doesn’t mean that it’s not prone to breakage.
This is still tempered glass, which means a small nick can increase the stress on the material that it can shatter. For this reason, you need to send it to a screen repair expert immediately once you see cracks.
Due to its durability, Gorilla Glass can be used in many applications where durability is required without sacrificing quality. For example, smartphone screens are made from Gorilla Glass because they are constantly being dropped or banged around during normal use. A screen protector would not have the same effect as an actual piece of Gorilla Glass because it wouldn’t be able to handle much punishment.
Another benefit is that it’s very thin, which is great for smartphone manufacturers who want to make the phone as sleek and nice-looking as possible while providing consumers with adequate protection. If Gorilla Glass were too thick, smartphones would be much bulkier than they already are.
The manufacturing process of Gorilla Glass is relatively simple compared to other materials used in the same applications. It begins with Corning dipping a hot glass rod into a vat of molten chemicals, crystallizing the surface and making it extremely durable.
Gorilla Glass manufacturers say they don’t want to make their products too expensive because having something safe and reliable should be done without compromising quality or success in business. That’s why the price point for the product is relatively low when you think about what it does for smartphones.
In fact, it accounted for only less than 10 percent of the company’s revenue in 2018. Nevertheless, the company is still making a profit without increasing the price for their customers, which is always a good thing.
5. Optical Properties
Another benefit of Gorilla Glass is that it has better optical properties than traditional soda-lime glass. This allows users to see what’s on their screen better even when not looking at it straight on.
Some other materials used in smartphones can distort light or color when viewed at certain angles. But since Gorilla Glass has much higher clarity and transmits light very well, people can see their screens even when looking at them from pretty extreme angles.
Because of this feature, people can use their touchscreen devices much more effectively because they won’t have any trouble seeing what’s on the screen no matter how they hold it or where they look.
Mobile devices these days are tougher than what people think, partly thanks to the glass. Hopefully, as innovation catches on, Gorilla Glass will be more durable and resistant to damage.