Thin glass or polymers for display substrates?

Charles Annis, DisplaySearch, reports on new thin glass products for lighter, thinner, and flexible displays. The full article is available in the DisplaySearch Monitor publication for July. In this article, thin FPD glass refers to 0.4mm or thinner, while ultra-thin glass means 0.2mm or thinner.

August 3, 2012 — The flat panel display (FPD) industry is continuously researching thinner glass substrates, to reduce the glass volume and weight of displays. Thinner glass substrates can be more expensive despite the lower raw material quantities, due to the engineering work to create them. With time, thinner glass results in lower display manufacturing costs.

Thinner glass is of interest for mobile displays. Ultra-thin substrates are an enabling technology for flexible displays, including flexible active matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays, which are on the verge of commercialization. However, DisplaySearch warns that many display fabs are set up to handle glass 0.5mm and thicker, and will need to be retrofitted to process 0.4mm glass, and will need even more handling tools for 0.3mm and thinner.

Corning recently brought its 0.3mm EAGLE XG Slim glass to Gen 6 substrates, targeting mobile displays. The glass avoids or reduces wet etching by hydrofluoric acid for thinning.

Figure. The glass-thinning segment will grow at a 29% CAGR between 2010 and 2015. SOURCE: DisplaySearch, TFT LCD Process Roadmap Report

Corning also presented “Ultra-Slim Flexible Glass Substrates for Display Applications” at the Society for Information Display’s Display Week, this June in Boston, discussing 0.2mm glass that can be rolled up on spools. It can be used as touch panels, cover glass, lighting, color filters, substrate, and encapsulation glass.

Non-alkali glass is the substrate of choice for conventional FPDs, and is desirable for flexible applications. It offers thin form factor with smooth surface quality and high transmission, among other benefits. Polymer substrates are stronger and lighter, but suffer from significantly higher surface roughness and lower optical transmission than glass. Glass also offers a significantly better hermetic seal than polymer substrates, of high interest for AMOLED displays.

Figure 2. Qualities of polymer film versus glass for flexible displays. SOURCE: Corning,“Ultra-Slim Flexible Glass Substrates for Display Applications,” SID 2012.

Glassmakers are developing hybrid substrates that combine polymer films with glass. Their purpose is to overcome the tradeoffs with each of the materials, providing the high quality of glass while adding the strength of polymer films.

To read the full article, including information about AGC’s carrier technology for 100µm glass, register for the DisplaySearch Monitor publication at

DisplaySearch LLC, an NPD Group Company, reports and articles can be accessed at

Also read: The view from Display Week 2012: Glass tech at AGC

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