Japanese firm creates ultra-thin touchscreen glass substrate

Gadgets of the future will benefit from touchscreens with the world's thinnest glass substrate, devised by Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Co.

The thinnest commercial substrate on the market today is 0.3 mm thick, but the new soda-lime AGC-Asahi Glass product measures just 0.28 mm thick, 15 percent thinner. It is also 15 percent lighter, which means that smartphones and tablet devices can be designed to be smaller and lighter than ever before. The substrate is set between the glass cover and the LCD screen of a device.

The company announced the technological breakthrough and details of its float process manufacturing method (which floats glass over molten metal for thinner, more consistent results) in Tokyo on Thursday.

Asahi Glass was also behind the highly durable cover glass for portable gadgets that was unveiled in January. Called Dragontrail, the glass is chemically strengthened to be six times stronger than the glass presently used as covers for flat-panel televisions and mobile devices.

Dragontrail is already being used in a number of gadgets and the demand has shown how glass makers are looking to meet the demand that is being generated by the popularity of touchscreen devices.

Glass touch screens comprise a tough cover material and an underlying layer of substrate material embedded with electrodes. Soda-lime glass is an ideal substrate material for these screens because it maintains its form when subjected to heat, it resists discoloring due to ultraviolet radiation, accepts chemical strengthening and is easy to process.

The new glass substrate is scheduled to be exhibited during Display Week 2011 of the Society for Information Display in Los Angeles from May 15.

Soda-lime glass is composed mainly in sodium oxide and silicon dioxide and is used extensively in construction, the automotive industry and a wide range of electronic devices.

JR

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