Silver Being Used To Kill Bacteria On Corning’s Gorilla Glass

By Bodo Albrecht
Wednesday August 26, 2015 10:06

Many people using touch screen devices such as smartphones or tablets have wondered about the presence of microbes on these screens at one point or another. Corning, maker of “Gorilla Glass”, a widely used brand of glass on such devices, just announced a new version of anti-microbial Gorilla Glass to address the issue.

This week’s Tech Metals Insider guest is Dr. Joydeep Lahiri, division vice president and program director at Corning’s Specialty Surfaces Group, to tell us more about the development.

Image courtesy of Corning

“The idea was to create a product that has durable anti-microbial properties while preserving key properties of Gorilla Glass such as scratch resistance, damage resistance and optical clarity,” he explained. “By infusing a tiny amount of ionic silver on the surface we get a reservoir that is sufficient to last for the lifetime of the device.”

Asked about the life span of the feature, Lahiri said that the coating will last “a lot” longer than just 2 to 3 years. “We adjusted the amount of silver so the optical quality would not be compromised by putting the silver where it needs to be. It’s a very precise process,” he added. This approach also keeps the additional cost at a minimum.

Corning is confident that this new patented process will be the most efficient use of silver while providing the highest performance and lowest cost. “Most devices today already have an ‘easy to clean’ surface coating,” Lahiri went on. “It reduces smudges and gives a smooth, textile feel.” Combined with Corning’s new anti-microbial Gorilla Glass, “you get the look and touch that you would expect from Gorilla Glass but now it has the anti-microbial effect as well.”

The product is in production mode and will first appear on ZTE’s Axon smartphone and on Diebold ATMs. Given Corning’s history and relationship with Apple the next generation iPhone is probably a good guess, too. On top, Corning expects the new type of glass to open additional markets in the area of shared touch screens. Many of us are using so-called “point of sale” (POS) touch screens in stores, at airport kiosks and in many other places. “Microbes can transfer from shared to personal touch screens”, Lahiri points out. The coating will therefore be beneficial in both areas and markets.

Asked about sapphire glass as a competitor to Gorilla Glass, Lahiri said: “We believe Gorilla Glass is an extremely competitive material. We understand the properties and limitations of thin sapphire glass well. There are significant issues, cost being one of them but also scratch and damage resistance which are severely compromised in some types of application.

Corning is one of the world’s leading innovators in material sciences; the company was first to develop substrates that could be impregnated with precious metals, leading to catalytic converters. Corning’s activities range from display technologies, optical communications, environmental technology and life sciences to specialty materials. Its “Emerging Innovations Group” represented by Dr. Joydeep Lahiri focuses on new businesses that are considered long term or that do not fit with any of the existing businesses.

The latest use for silver demonstrates that the metal is once again inching into novel main stream technical applications, contributing to its renaissance.

Bodo Albrecht
President – BASIQ Corp.
www.bodoalbrecht.com