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What Is Gorilla Glass?

Gorilla Glass Chemistry and History


Gorilla Glass is strong and tough... like a gorilla!

Gorilla Glass is strong and tough... like a gorilla! The original, less-glamorous name for this glass was "Chemcor" glass.

Brocken Inaglory, Creative Commons License

Question: What Is Gorilla Glass?

Gorilla Glass is the thin, tough glass that protects cell phones, laptop computers and millions of other portable electronic devices. Here's a look at what Gorilla Glass is and what makes it so strong.

Answer: Gorilla Glass is a specific brand of glass manufactured by Corning. Compared to other types of glass, Gorilla Glass is particularly:

  • hard
  • thin
  • lightweight
  • scratch resistant
Gorilla Glass hardness is comparable to that of sapphire, which is 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Regular glass is much softer, closer to a 7 on the Mohs scale. The increased hardness means you're less likely to scratch your phone or monitor from daily use or contact with other items in your pocket or purse.

How Gorilla Glass Is Made

The glass consists of a thin sheet of alkali-aluminosilicate. Gorilla Glass is strengthened using an ion-exchange process which forces large ions into the spaces between molecules on the glass surface. Specifically, glass is placed in a 400°C molten potassium salt bath, which forces potassium ions to replace the sodium ions originally in the glass. The larger potassium ions take up more space between the other atoms in the glass. As the glass cools, the crunched-together atoms produce a high level of compressive stress in the glass that helps protect the surface from mechanical damage.

Gorilla Glass Invention

Gorilla Glass isn't a new invention. Actually, the glass, originally named "Chemcor", was developed by Corning in 1960. At that time its only practical application was for use in racing cars, where strong, lightweight glass was needed.

In 2006, Steve Jobs contacted Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning, seeking a strong, scratch-resistant glass for Apple's iPhone. With the success of the iPhone, Corning's glass has been adopted for use in numerous similar devices.

Did You Know?

There is more than one type of Gorilla Glass. Gorilla Glass 2 is a newer form of Gorilla Glass that is up to 20% thinner than the original material, yet still as tough.

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