Corning Glory

We go inside Corning’s Technology Center in Palo Alto, CA and witness the evolutionary Gorilla Glass 5 being unveiled, tested, dropped, poked and subjected to many other horrors. Does it survive it all?

Samsung Note 7 was the first phone to get the Gorilla Glass 5 and the first to explode on a colossal scale.

Pretty sure the glass couldn’t have survived that, but we can tell you what it can survive… read on, you technomaniac, or whatever it is you call a glass-obsessed person.

Sugar and spice and everything science

So how is it made? (Insert dramatic Apple introduction tone) The raw material is amalgamated into a glass composition using the ‘fuming forming process’. The molten mixture is then fed into a trough called an ‘isopipe’, where it spreads evenly, like honey on bread, and no, you can’t eat it, no matter how amazing it looks.




This molten glass then fuses at the bottom to form a continuous, micron-thin sheet of super-flat glass (still can’t eat it).

To strengthen the glass, Corning uses a chemical process called ion exchange. Here, large ions are ‘stuffed’ into the glass surface, creating a state of compression. The glass is placed in a hot bath of molten salt at a temperature of approximately 400° Celsius. At this point, smaller sodium ions leave the glass, and are replaced by larger potassium ions from the salt bath (science pitch!). These larger ions take up more room and are pressed together when the glass cools. This produces a layer of compressive stress on the surface of the glass as well as deep within.

Definitely not your usual powerpuff dose of ingredients, but very, very effective.


Surveys show that 63% of smartphone users say they’ve dropped their devices from a height between their shoulder and waist. Chances are, you’ve dropped one too in the recent past. If its display didn’t shatter, we’re pretty sure it sported Corning Gorilla Glass.

When you need to make glass that is microns thin and yet strong enough to take a beating, you need a manufacturing process that is highly precise.

The answer comes in the form of a fusion manufacturing system, an automated draw process that produces a thin sheet of glass with pristine surface quality, optical clarity and inherent dimensional stability. This Gorilla Glass 5 is between 0.4mm-1.3mm thick and provides up to 2x improvement in damage resistance and 1.8x protection during drop tests when compared to Gorilla Glass 4. That’s superglass for you!

Now that we’ve told you how it’s made, let’s see how it breaks...

Once inside the test labs, we were given a first-hand look at how Corning tests a sheet of Gorilla Glass 5. And we witnessed everything from poke tests with pencils to steel balls being dropped on it to the lethal drop tests from various heights. The sample we saw survived its 22nd drop from a height of 1.6 metres without a fuss.

So how does it break? Well, it doesn’t.