Glass Summit 2016 | Glass and Future Technologies | Corning

This year's Glass Summit covered a variety of topics where glass can have a significant impact in the near future.

CORNING, N.Y. – Known as a leader in glass technologies and creating life-changing innovations – Corning recently hosted the second Glass Summit in Corning, NY with 200 attendees from many facets of the glass industry gathering to share ideas and inspire new thinking around future technologies.

Corning’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. David Morse opened the event by taking a photo of the audience then asking them how many pieces of technical glass were in his cell phone. He did this to demonstrate how far smart phone technology has come in the past decade and why Corning technologies play such a vital role in making these technologies work.

“Ten years ago, we didn’t use phones like this and Corning’s role as a materials expert helped enable smart phone technology that has changed the way people communicate,” David said. “Today’s age of internet and cell phones are all directly involved with glass, and all of the ‘bytes’ can’t go anywhere without glass optical fiber and can’t be viewed without displays.”

Dr. Gary Calabrese, senior vice president, Global Research, also helped set the tone for the event by reminding attendees about the difference between inventions and innovations. “Inventions can be cool, new ideas, but combining an invention with economic value leads to an innovation.”

This year’s Glass Summit covered a variety of topics where glass can have a significant impact in the near future including design, fiber applications and optical materials, as well as healthcare, virtual and augmented reality, and specialty glasses. Below are some key takeaways on topics discussed during the event.   


With many of the Glass Summit attendees working in an academic or industrial setting, keynote speakers Mark Dziersk, Managing Director of LUNAR and James Carpenter, Founder,  James Carpenter Design Associates, challenged the audience to embrace the power of design – regardless of the industry you work in.

Mark stressed the linkage between engineering and design as well as the importance of materials. “In architecture, materials can help enhance or manipulate light which can be very powerful,” he said.

James spoke about the potential of using glass and other materials to activate and transform public spaces.  “Light carries information about the world around us,” he said.  “Glass allows us to layer many different components of light simultaneously, augmenting our ability to share a transcendent experience of nature.”

Fiber Applications/Optical Materials

While the field of fiber optics has come a long way in the past four decades, there is still work to be done as the need for increased bandwidth is increasing at an astounding rate.  

Dr. Pushkar Tandon, Development Fellow, Corning Optical Communications, noted that  internet growth has pushed optical fiber demand to 300 million kms/year, which is the equivalent of circling the planet twenty times every day. “Corning currently has solutions that can help address demand issues to support data centers, long-haul and fiber-to-the-home applications,” he said.

Dr. Yoel Fink of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) discussed a "Moore's law for fibers" that will lead to new uses for multi-material fibers that can help transform entire industries including the use of fiber for minimally invasive surgeries as well as the use of photonic fibers embedded in soldiers’ uniforms as encrypted markers for the reduction of friendly fire casualties. 

“Precise, micro-structured fibers drawn from preforms will enable the transformation of fabric materials into highly functional devices and systems that will see, hear, sense and communicate, store and convert energy and change color,” he said.


Think glass can’t be used be used for medical applications? Think again. External speakers at the Glass Summit focused on current medical breakthroughs for glass such as bioactive glasses used to repair hard and soft tissue, and glass scaffolds that have been developed with compressive strength comparable to human bone along with compatible flexure strength.

“There is a glass in healthcare revolution for use in the human body,” Dr. Delbert Day, Professor Emeritus at Missouri University of Science and Technology, said. “Bioactive glass degrades slowly within the body for a sustained release and can be tailor-made to produce beneficial results in the body.”

Augmented and Virtual Reality

How can glass help enable augmented and virtual reality? Corning and external speakers within this section of the Glass Summit discussed why this is such an attractive market for glass  technologists to work in and how glass and fiber optics are helping to enable a variety of applications such as near-to-eye display technologies for training, entertainment, education and military applications as well as optical see-through head-worn displays.

“People want entertainment that is personalized and on demand,” said Dr. Waguih Ishak, division vice president & chief technologist.

A variety of material advances help enable these exciting new innovations including high index glass, optical sub-systems, and illumination applications such as Corning® Fibrance® Light-diffusing Fiber.  There will also be novel methods to produce patterns in glass, glasses with low dispersion as well as methods to handle all of the data to meet the exacting demands for new devices.

Specialty Glasses

Speakers from Corning and external academic institutions discussed some of the hot topics in the field of specialty glass including plastic deformation and the hardness of glass in forming inorganic-organic hybrid glass and the many uses of glass ceramics.

“Legendary Corning scientist Dr. S. Donald Stookey unknowingly spearheaded the first drop test on glass-ceramics by accident more than 60 years ago during what proved to be the invention of  Fotoceram,” said Dr. Qiang Fu, senior research scientist. “Each day at Sullivan Park, we test several hundred parts to look for new glass and glass-ceramic compositions with a step change in performances to meet the needs of emerging market innovations in consumer electronics. Our novel glass-ceramic compositions with high strength and toughness have shown great potential for these new applications.”


Revitalizing Glass Research

Dr. Michael Pambianchi, Research Director, Glass Research, helped close out the Glass Summit by thanking the attendees for coming and reminding them how far we’ve come since the first Glass Summit in 2014.

“We started these events to re-engage with glass scientists and re-invigorate the conversation around glass science in the U.S.,” he said. “We want there to be linkages amongst all the people who work in glass research.”

Some of the successes that were a direct result of the 2014 event were the establishment of the Glass Age Scholar program as well as the Functional Glass Manufacturing Innovation Consortium which is managed by the American Ceramic Society to address manufacturing needs of functional glasses in the U.S.

In addition, the Gordon S. Fulcher Sabbatical Program was also noted as a success from the last Summit.
Professors Liping Huang and Yunfeng Shi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute spoke to the audience during the recent Summit about their experience at Corning as the first participants in the program. 

“Corning is a place where anything can happen with glass research,” said Professor Huang. “If we continue to work together – both industry and academia - we’ll help to advance the future of glass science.”