What Is Gorilla Glass?

Gorilla Glass Chemistry and History

Person Holding a Cell Phone
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Gorilla Glass is the thin, tough glass that protects cell phones, laptop computers and millions of other portable electronic devices. Here's a look at what Gorilla Glass is and what makes it so strong.

Gorilla Glass Facts

Gorilla Glass is a specific brand of glass manufactured by Corning. Presently, the world uses the fifth generation of the material, which has been improved over the years. Compared to other types of glass, Gorilla Glass is particularly:

  • Hard
  • Thin
  • Lightweight
  • Scratch resistant

Gorilla Glass hardness is comparable to that of sapphire, which is 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Regular glass is much softer, closer to a 7 on the Mohs scale. The increased hardness means you're less likely to scratch your phone or monitor from daily use or contact with other items in your pocket or purse.

How Gorilla Glass Is Made

The glass consists of a thin sheet of alkali-aluminosilicate. Gorilla Glass is strengthened using an ion-exchange process which forces large ions into the spaces between molecules on the glass surface. Specifically, glass is placed in a 400°C molten potassium salt bath, which forces potassium ions to replace the sodium ions originally in the glass. The larger potassium ions take up more space between the other atoms in the glass. As the glass cools, the crunched-together atoms produce a high level of compressive stress in the glass that helps protect the surface from mechanical damage.

Gorilla Glass Invention

Gorilla Glass isn't a new invention. Actually, the glass, originally named "Chemcor", was developed by Corning in 1960. At that time its only practical application was for use in racing cars, where strong, lightweight glass was needed.

In 2006, Steve Jobs contacted Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning, seeking a strong, scratch-resistant glass for Apple's iPhone. With the success of the iPhone, Corning's glass has been adopted for use in numerous similar devices.

In 2017, over five billion devices incorporated Gorilla Glass, but there are other products with similar properties that compete in the global market. These include sapphire glass (corundum) and Dragontrail (an alkali-aluminosilicate sheet glass made by Asahi Glass Co.)

Did You Know?

There is more than one type of Gorilla Glass. Gorilla Glass 2 is a newer form of Gorilla Glass that is up to 20% thinner than the original material, yet still as tough. Gorilla Glass 3 resists deep scratches and is more flexible than its predecessors. Gorilla Glass 4 is thinner and more damage resistant. Gorilla Glass 5 was introduced in 2016 for use in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Gorilla Glass SR+ was also introduced in 2016, for use in the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch.

More About Glass

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Is Gorilla Glass?" ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2021, thoughtco.com/what-is-gorilla-glass-607863. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2021, September 3). What Is Gorilla Glass? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-gorilla-glass-607863 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Is Gorilla Glass?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-gorilla-glass-607863 (accessed November 26, 2022).