Here Is The Lab Where People Smash Gorilla Glass On Purpose

There’s a secret lab at Corning, the glass company, where technicians sit around and torture innocent pieces of glass. They’re not evil glass-haters: they’re testing new formulations of Gorilla Glass, the tough material that most smartphone screens and tablets are made of. Can they make Gorilla Glass tougher and in more shapes in order to replace its possible synthetic sapphire replacement?

CNET visited the Gorilla Glass torture lab recently, and there’s a good reason why: Corning wants to make its case to gadget-lovers Before the latest iPhone came out, there were rumors that it would have a sapphire screen. Don’t go picturing blue phone screens: sheets of synthetic sapphire are clear, they’re almost as tough as diamonds, and they could replace glass in the future. Just not yet. Some phones, including the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, use it to cover the camera lens and thumbprint sensor, but it’s not quite ready to cover a whole screen yet on a mass-market phone. There are some pricey specialty phones that use it.

The completely unbiased people at Corning will tell you that this is because the material shatters too easily. It does shatter very easily: while sapphire doesn’t pick up as many fine scratches as Gorilla Glass, but it does shatter very easily after even very superficial damage. It really is the job of some engineers to break glass all day: looking at how and why glass breaks helps them to formulate new versions, and also to devise new tests that they will use to smash those new versions of the material.

For Gorilla Glass testers, life is a daily grind (and scratch and drop…) [CNET]