Photo: SCHOTT/C. Costard
Flexible, stable, and ultra-thin
Faster processors, extremely small chip packages, fingerprint sensors for smartphones – ultra-thin glass is a versatile precursor for the microelectronics of tomorrow.
Aquick test does away with the usual preconceptions that pertain to a millennia-old material: Inside a bending device, a glass sheet bends to such a great extent that you can almost wrap it around your finger, but it doesn’t break. This glass is 50 micrometers thin, about as thick as a human hair. SCHOTT can produce it as thin as 25 micrometers, while ten micrometers are already targeted in the lab. The technology group ranks among the few companies that can use advanced production and processing methods to give such ultra-thin glasses the necessary stability they require for industrial use (see text box). ”Glass can literally be continuously reinvented,” explains Dr. Rüdiger Sprengard, Director of New Business for Ultra-Thin Glass at SCHOTT. ”This allows us to use its many different properties very effectively in promising future applications such as microelectronics.” Ultra-thin glass can support the trend toward miniaturization in this important industry and enhance performance where existing substrate materials reach their limits.
Photo: SCHOTT/C. Costard
Ultra-thin glass from SCHOTT (left) will perform important functions in the smartphone of the future (top): as toughened cover glass in flexible OLED displays, cameras or fingerprint sensors, and as a substrate material for thin-film batteries or thermally and dimensionally stable components in processors. Photo: SCHOTT/Arndt Benedikt
SCHOTT will be looking to put its vast expertise in the area of ultra-thin glass to use in many exciting future markets, particularly for the smartphone of the future. This includes bendable or foldable displays based on organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). Tempered and therefore scratch-resistant ultra-thin glass is also ideal for use in fingerprint sensors as a substrate or an encapsulant. These detectors for reliable identification of smartphone users are already available on the market with ultra-thin glass from SCHOTT. Thin-film batteries are yet another important field of application that deserves mention. These next generation microbatteries are capable of supplying even the smallest autonomous devices or sensors with power. They can be used in ”wearables,” e.g. display devices that can be worn like a bracelet, but especially for the ”Internet of Things.” ”In order for us to be able to realize these fascinating future trends, we are already in close contact with development and industry partners and see relevant growth potential for SCHOTT,” says Dr. Sprengard. <
Measurements performed at the Thin Glass Center of Excellence in Grünenplan (left) and material tests at the Otto SCHOTT Research Center at SCHOTT headquarters in Mainz show how strong and sturdy ultra-thin glass really is. This is tested by performing two-point bending tests (right) and long-term surface resistance tests (center), for example. Photos: SCHOTT/A. Sell
Interposers (right photo, source: SCHOTT/Arndt Benedikt) connect microelectronic components inside a much smaller space than traditional printed circuit boards (on left, photo Thinkstock). A laser can be used to drill more holes in ultra-thin glass than in conventional substrates to provide for the finest vias needed: about 12,700 on a 20 by 20 centimeter area (photos centrally, source: SCHOTT).
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