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Meet the people who torture Gorilla Glass for a livingCNET's Ben Fox Rubin discusses his visit to Corning's reliability and testing labs for its smartphone cover glass.
[MUSIC] Hi, I'm Bridget Carey with CNet, and I'm here with Ben Fox Rubin, a reporter with us. And we're talking about something that strikes fear into the hearts of many, cracked cell phone screens. In particular, the screen that's in a lot of our phones made by Corning, known as Gorilla Glass. You got to take a trip down. To their labs to see how they test the glass' strength and well, tell me a little bit about what you saw behind the scenes. Go into this shop space inside this corridor and get to see all the awful torturing that they do to gorilla glass to get it ready. Did you get to torture the glass at all? I did get a chance to try to break a very. Thin square of gorilla glass, and I have to say that didn't do a terribly good job making any dent in it what so ever. I was trying to like, push it down with a metal rod and didn't feel very powerful afterwards. [LAUGH] Well, okay, we hear a lot of talk these days about sapphire screens because sapphires are very hard material. There's a lot of talk that maybe even the next iPhones would have sapphire screens and that didn't pan out, but. Did you get to see some Sapphire? Yeah, interestingly enough for the first time Corning provided some in person demonstrations where they put sapphire up against Gorilla glass and you know obviously you shouldn't be too surprised from the Corning presentation on Sapphire that. Sapphire didn't do particularly well. And it was, they showed how it was incredibly brittle in certain circumstances where if sapphire, gets a little bit damaged, it'll just, you know, shatter into pieces. What do you mean by, like, damaged? Cuz I thought this was strong stuff. There was one demonstration where all they really did was use a piece of. sand paper that you could have gotten from Home Depot, brushed it up against the Sapphire, and then were able to break it with a pencil eraser. Sapphire is super duper scratch resistant, but after it's been damaged, even just a little, according to the Corning tests that I saw, it's much, much more susceptible to breakage. So, so why is gorilla glass so strong? What are they doing to make it stronger each time? In the manufacturing process thy take out sodium ions and replace them with larger potassium ions that then makes the surface a whole lot stronger. It creates a certain level of compression that then makes it much, much more damage resistant. So they pack in different kinds of ions. It- so, when we have, when we hear about gorilla glass three, or the future gorilla glass four, are these glasses. Thicker in our phones to make them stronger and they end up being different thicknesses. Corning manages to make gorilla glass stronger every single generation, yet when they hand it over to handset makers, they then take that added strength and use it and make the cover glass thinner. > Okay. So it's just as strong as probably your last model. But it's just a little bit thinner. What Corning is trying to do to amp up, gorilla glass and make it just as interesting for folks is to add different things to it like water resistance, oil resistance, oh it doesn't have, as many fingerprints on it. All right thanks Ben for the inside look into Corning and, some knowledge that maybe suffer isn't all it's cracked up to be. For Cnet, I'm Bridget Gibbons.