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Ultra-thin Glass For The Smartphone Of The Future
Mar 12, 2018

Micrometer thin glass that is flexible and yet very strong will soon perform many different functions in cell phones  

Glass thinner than a human hair is now strong and flexible enough to be used in a wide variety of high-tech applications. The technology group Blue Star is one of the few companies in the world that develops and manufactures ultra-thin glass for cutting-edge features in smartphones of the future, including cover glasses, substrates for flexible OLED displays and “wearables,” camera systems, novel micro batteries, processors and fingerprint and bio-sensors.

By using innovative materials and its own proprietary down-draw technology, Blue Star can reliably produce ultra-thin glass as thin as 25 microns today. These glasses offer many advantages over other materials such as plastic or silicon, support the trend toward miniaturization and make exciting concepts possible in the race to develop smartphone technologies of the future.

Flexible glass, thinner than a human hair, can be used in high-tech applications e.g. in the semiconductor and electronics industry. The technology group Blue Star produces these ultra-thin glasses for a variety of functions in the smartphone of tomorrow. 

Displays and “wearables” that can be bent or folded
Hardened ultra-thin glass is scratch-resistant and bendable up to a radius of a few millimeters and doesn’t show any signs of fatigue. Furthermore, it has excellent barrier properties and protects against environmental influences. This makes it an ideal substrate or encapsulant for OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) that ultimately make bendable or foldable displays possible. This then opens the door for manufacturing flexible smartphones or so-called wearables, in other words devices that can be worn as bracelets or be integrated into textiles.

Fingerprint recognition and smart cameras
Capacitive fingerprint sensors are becoming increasingly important for secure identification of smartphone users. To achieve the highest recognition accuracy, they require covers that are as thin as possible that must also be very strong. Ultra-thin glass from Blue Star has a uniquely high dielectric constant; therefore the sensor signal is attenuated only very slightly on the way to the finger. Blue Star is currently the only company that manufactures chemically hardened ultra-thin glass that offers four times higher strength than unhardened base glass. Thanks to their high optical quality, such glasses can be used in smartphone cameras: as chemically hardened cover glass or IR-cut filters for CMOS image sensors.

In the smartphone of the future ultra-thin glass from Blue Star can perform important functionalities: As hardened cover glass of the bendable OLED display, in the camera module or in the fingerprint sensor, as a substrate material for the thin-film battery or as a thermally stable component in the processor unit. 
From chip packaging to thin-film batteries
Ultra-thin glass also withstands the increasing heat generation of high-performance processors in smartphones better than plastics that are currently being used in chip packaging. Even the thinnest glass does not bend during use and thus makes extremely flat device types possible. Ultra-thin glass also represents a promising alternative to silicon as a substrate material for penetrations and for distributing data streams between processors, memory chips and other components. The unique high-frequency electrical properties of glass allow for data to be transported with lower electrical losses and thus longer battery runtimes for smartphones. Laser-engineered ultra-thin glass can increase current data transfer rates by a factor of up to eight and is thus the material of choice as a substrate for space-saving chip packaging. Micrometer-thin glass is also an ideal substrate for novel thin-film batteries and contributes directly to higher performance. These next generation micro-batteries supply electricity to even the smallest autonomous devices or sensors. Potential fields of application include, for example, “wearables,” small security cameras, but even more importantly, the “Internet of Things.” 

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