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Gorilla Glass on Brink of Extinction After Willow Glass Unveiling (Updated)

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Corning (GLW), the firm behind the ubiquitous Gorilla Glass used in millions of today’s mobile devices -- like the iPhone (AAPL), Android's (GOOG) Droid line, and Windows Phone (MSFT) devices made by Nokia (NOK) -- recently unveiled a new type of ultra-thin flexible glass called “Willow Glass," the BBC reports.

In addition to being able to wrap around all of your portable devices, Willow Glass is as durable as the existing glass in the market, while being substantially thinner (0.05 mm compared to current 0.2mm or 0.5mm displays). Formed from the firm’s new glassmaking process called Fusion, the glass is produced by melting the ingredients at 500 degrees Celsius, then creating a continuous sheet that’s rolled out (picture a printing press).

The prototype unveiled earlier this week in Boston at the Society for Information Display's Display Week was as thin as a piece of paper, and the company has already started providing the glass to customers who will use the new display and touch technologies in their products. While the flexible glass could be used for screens that aren’t flat, the Willow will also be useful in keeping up with the increasingly slimmer mobile phone designs.

"Displays become more pervasive each day,” Willow Glass program director Dipak Chowdhury said. “And manufacturers strive to make both portable devices and larger displays thinner."

Earlier this year at the CES convention in Las Vegas, Gorilla Glass 2 was unveiled, and it was even thinner -- 20% less so than the previous Gorilla, while remaining just as strong. The company, however, would like to see Willow Glass eventually replace the Gorilla on future products.

The original Gorilla Glass was largely ignored for decades before it was finally discovered by Apple’s Steve Jobs in 2007, who needed a glass display for the new iPhone that wouldn’t scratch easily when sharing a pocket with a set of keys.

Since then, it has been used on more than 575 products by 33 manufacturers on over a half a billion devices, according to the BBC.

Update: A Corning spokesperson told Minyanville the company has no current plans to replace Gorilla Glass with Willow Glass and both products will work in tandem in future devices.
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