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Corning unveils paper-thin, flexible Willow glass

American specialist glass and ceramic manufacturer Corning has unveiled a new ultra-slim, flexible glass that the company hopes can revolutionise the shape and form of next-generation electronics.

Corning's Willow Glass is expected to be put to work on mobile devices, with the possibility of displays being "wrapped" around a structure, Corning said in a press release. The cousin to Corning's Gorilla Glass, Willow Glass can withstand temperatures of nearly 500 degrees Celsius. It also allows for high-temperature, continuous "roll-to-roll" processes, similar to how newsprint is produced - an industry operation previously deemed impossible.

A curved display as well as more lightweight devices could become a reality, according to Dr. Dipak Chowdhury, Corning division vice president and Willow Glass program director.

"Displays become more pervasive every day and manufacturers strive to make both portable devices and larger displays thinner," he said in a Corning-produced video (below).

The glass, just 100 microns thick, or about as thin as a sheet of copy paper, "could revolutionise the shape and form of next-generation consumer electronic technologies," Corning said.

During this week's Society for Information Display's Display Week in Boston, Corning demonstrated the glass's color filtering, showing its thin, lightweight capability, without being chemically reduced.

"The glass has a display-quality surface as a substrate for thin, light-advanced LCD and OLED," the spokesman said. The glass is "formulated to perform exceptionally well for electronic components such as touch sensors," Corning wrote in statement. Willow Glass will support displays on devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

The super-thin glass is currently manufactured in a sheet-to-sheet process, but Chowdhury said he expects Willow Glass to eventually allow customers to switch to roll-to-roll processing, what he called "a long-awaited industry milestone."

According to the spokesman, the company is currently sampling rolls of Willow Glass to unnamed customers, and working closely with others in the industry to build the ecosystem for roll-to-roll processing.

Corning recently slapped its Gorilla Glass 2 on the face of the new Samsung Galaxy S III, toting a rough-and-tumble, scratch-resistant screen, according to SlashGear.