Shaping LCD industry
An award recently announced for Corning Iris™ Glass shows this sentiment in action – proving that when a tough problem stands in the way of innovation, Corning's glass is the No. 1 solution to make incredible things possible.
Corning Iris™ Glass is an innovation that enables remarkably thin LCD TVs. Set designs can be half the thickness of a cell phone by using Iris Glass instead of a typical plastic component – called a light-guide plate. But this has been no simple swap. Corning overcame major technical challenges to offer Iris Glass to the market.
The achievements have led to a 2016 Display Component of the Year award from the Society of Information Display. SID, the definitive professional display-industry organization, honored Corning's light-guide plate solution with one of its top awards during Display Week 2016, the premier global display-industry gathering.
"On behalf of SID, we would like to commend Corning's ongoing commitment to innovation and to helping shape the future of display performance and solutions," said Wei Chen, who chairs the SID Display Industry Awards committee.
The award recognizes that Corning is contributing to a new wave of cutting-edge designs.
"We see throughout the consumer electronics industry a trend toward ever thinner devices," said Andrew Beck, Corning's program director for Iris Glass.
"Iris Glass fits perfectly into that trend by enabling thinner TVs and other displays."
What is it?
The light-guide plate is a crucial component within a TV, distributing light across the TV set to create the picture that viewers see. The plate has traditionally been made of plastic polymer, and the inherent limitations of plastic have limited the trend toward thinner displays.
"The problem with plastic," said Adam Ellison, who leads technology delivery of Iris Glass, "is that it swells and distorts. It soaks up humidity in the room, and it expands when you heat it up. That unpredictable movement of the plastic has to be accommodated."
These problems with plastic force designers to include air gaps that increase the size of the bezel around the edges of the TV as well as space between the front and back of the set. This means a much thicker set with larger bezel. But Iris Glass changes everything.
"Because glass is so stable, the display goes almost to the edge," Adam said. "It has no moisture sensitivity and very low expansion from temperature. So you don't have any extra thickness."
"Even TVs that are considered slim by today’s standards are typically more than 15 millimeters thick," said Andrew Beck, who is program manager for Iris Glass. "At SID Display Week we showed one TV that is 65 inches and 4.7 millimeters thick and another that is 55 inches and 4.6 millimeters. We've been sharing these designs with customers, and they've been blown away."
Moving from display glass to optical component
In order for a light-guide plate to work, it can't absorb or change the color of the light it is distributing across the entire TV. Regular glass isn't pure enough and light isn't transmitted well. The result is a change in color across the TV, called color shift, and one side of the TV looks different than the other.
This is why Corning decided to forge the way toward an entirely new type of glass to help customers produce their ultra-thin set designs. Iris Glass is now the highest purity glass we manufacture within Corning Glass Technologies.
What we are trying to do is very different than what has been done before. We are now making a flat optical device, not a display substrate. It’s a pretty remarkable story for Corning. It has been both a huge materials and process technology development.