Foldable phones have nailed a lot of hardware and software achievements, but there’s one element that device-makers haven’t cracked: bendable glass.
Today’s foldable phones use a plastic material to cover the delicate, flexible electronic display. But what if these screens were coated in ultrahard diamond dust?
That might not be as crazy as it sounds. One company I spoke with last week at CES thinks it’s found a way to make ultralight super-hard glass for foldable devices using diamond glass.
Bendable glass is the holy grail of foldable phone design. So far, plastic screens have been more prone to damage from casual scrapes than hard glass. Without a protective material, the phone’s internal workings are susceptible to breaking from pressure, water, dust and sharp objects.
Samsung bore the brunt of this reality when its Galaxy Fold Foldable Phone sustained several types of screen damage before the phone officially went on sale.
With their high prices and untested designs, foldable phones are a tough sell as is. A strong cover material to protect against drops and scratches could help shift foldable phones from expensive curiosities to serious products that could one day replace your traditional shingle-shaped phone.
Gorilla Glass-maker Corning showed CNET glass that’s thin enough to fold without breaking, but it’s still in development and isn’t commercially available. If it were, we’d see a lot more foldable phones today. Without a ready supply of glass thin enough to fold in half and strong enough not to crack, splinter or break, device-makers have had to choose whether to wait for a new material or work with what they have.
Enter Miraj Diamond Glass, a material made from lab-manufactured nano-diamond materials. It’s sprayed onto a surface in a layer that measures just 100 nanometers, or 1/10,000 the thickness of a strand of hair. Diamond glass can coat either a plastic (polymer) sheet or a slip of untreated bendable glass. It’s hard, the company says, and will be completely foldable.