The majority of us have closer relationships with our phones than we do with other people. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that being caught in a precarious scenario just before your smartphone falls to the ground face down is awful. Other feelings that consume us include the fear of being unable to interact with friends on social media, capture joyous moments on camera, and generally losing touch for the few days until our phone is repaired. Having to deal with the expensive cost of getting the screen replaced is troublesome unless you’re rich enough to smash phones for fun.
While smartphone manufacturers have made repeated attempts to safeguard screens (and other glass parts), there is still no reliable method that allows you to drop your phone without fear of suffering a broken heart. But what if there was a technique to prevent us from dealing with these emotions? Not for a while, as silicon innovators are now counting on a new technique to make displays up to ten times more resilient and hardy than regular glass. A screen made of diamonds, the hardest substance known to man and a favourite of ladies, is being developed by Akhan Semiconductor.
What is a Diamond Glass Display?
Diamonds are no longer just known for being pricey gemstones. Actually, the semiconductor industry has been working on plans to switch silicon wafers out for exquisitely designed chips made of synthetic diamonds. The company Akhan, which has been advocating the usage of diamonds in combination with silicon, is developing a display glass that forms a transparent sheath using arrays of diamond nanocrystals. This stops the glass from instantly shattering when it meets a hard surface because the crystals are randomly organised in a three-dimensional lattice rather than being lined up on a plane. Thank you to Akhan Semiconductor
In order to allow conduction through diamond glasses while maintaining the high electrical resistance that diamonds are known for, pure diamonds are doped with boronto to produce p-type semiconductors. The naturally occurring blue diamond, which has boron as an impurity that makes it a conductor of electricity, served as the inspiration for this.
To prevent rivals from capitalising on its novelty, Akhan has not clearly stated how it intends to use the technology, but it is safe to assume that the glass won’t be entirely made of synthetic diamonds. Instead, it will likely be used as a protective layer on top of regular glass, similar to other chemical treatment options like Gorilla Glass.
How Does Akhan s Diamond Glass One Up Other Options?
Diamond Glass vs. Gorilla Glass
A chemical coating is applied to glass sheets comprised of silicon and aluminium to create Gorilla Glass, a trademark of the American ceramics and glass business Corning. Glass is more tightly bound by the coating chemical employed on it and is able to withstand rapid drops significantly better than regular glass. Since its introduction in 2008, Gorilla Glass has gradually become thinner while also becoming tougher to keep up with the rate of aesthetic advancement of smartphones. The most recent Gorilla Glass, which is fifth generation, has an unique layer that prevents bacteria from nesting on the displays of your smartphone.
As a result, Gorilla Glass can be viewed as unconventional glass that has been surface-toughened. It is easily broken once the forces are sufficient to rupture the top layer, just like a typical windowpane. Diamond Glass, on the other hand, is anticipated to be significantly more stress resistant due to the strong crystal-to-crystal connections present in the diamond lattice. Additionally, according to the manufacturer, it is up to 10 times harder and less prone to strain than conventional, non-strengthened glass.
Diamond Glass vs. Sapphire Crystal
Sapphire Crystals are a recent innovation in the glassblowing industry. Since the technique is used to toughen spacecraft glasses so they can withstand the large pressure difference, to make professional camera lenses, luxury timepieces, and even the screens of costly Vertu phones, it is not particularly new. In terms of more widely available smartphones, it is definitely new, and HTC recently bragged about it on the HTC U Ultra, the company’s flagship model from the previous year. Apple employs thin Sapphire coatings to safeguard its cameras and home buttons, but it hasn’t had the guts to deploy the technology on screens after one of its suppliers failed in an attempt to do so.
But even Sapphire, according to CEO of Akhan Adam Khan, submits before the Diamond Glass. Although the crystals are strong on their own, they don’t have the same strong bonds between them as Diamond Glass, which accounts for diamond’s status as the strongest substance. Sapphire and rubies are both members of the corundum group of mineral jewels, which ranks second in hardness only to diamond on the Mohs scale. It is also easier to fabricate thinner and wider layers of Diamond Glass than Sapphire Crystal, giving it an edge over the latter.
What Could be Some Potential Applications of Diamond Glass Other Than Smartphone Displays?
Glass is used abundantly and Diamond Glass could enrich some of the applications which require toughened glass. From fine dinnerware to transparent car engines, my mind is rife with imagination, but some of the applications with a more practical perspective could includetougher screens, irrespective of the gadget. These screens could be used on a variety of devices from smartphones to huge televisions.
Other uses on smartphones includetoughened camera covers and lenseswhich could be made scratch and breakage-proof using Diamond Glass.
Another major development could be for automobiles and buildings. Besides hardness, another property of diamonds that supports the idea is its ability to conduct heat effectively. This could be used to keepdissipate heat trapped due to the greenhouse effect and keep cars, homes, and offices cooler. It could also be used to keep smartphones and other gadgets with screens cooler.
Further, with the pace of space exploration, it is wise to expect that glass toughened by a sheath of diamonds could be used for spacecrafts meant to show you around the universe. It could also be used tomake autonomous cars saferthan we know them.
Will Diamond Glass Make Smartphones More Expensive? Most Likely, It Will!
With the amount of labor, both human and robot, that goes into developing synthetic diamonds, thepiling costs of the new age glass technology are inescapable. Further, to attain popularity and be applied on at least top-of-the-line smartphones if not as widely as Gorilla Glass, Akhan Semiconductor must sell this for several million devices within a short span to crack an early breakeven. For a successful proliferation,Akhan would be needed to sell the technology to a wide range of OEMs.
Khan says that the price of the glass panel could lie in close proximity to the ShatterShield technology by Motorola. The Lenovo-owned American smartphone company touts this technology tobeat gravitywith a guaranteed shielding against shattering. For this,Motorola uses five layers of protection. The glass technology secures flagships like Moto Z Force, Moto Z2 Force, and Moto Droid Turbo 2 and each panel is expected to cost between $40 to $120 to Motorola, depending on the phone.
When Will Smartphones with Diamond Glass Arrive?
Akhan has been marketing various applications of diamond as semiconductors since 2016 and earlier assured that the technology could come to devices by the end of 2017. Sadly that didn t happen and the company now predicts it couldproduce a decent stock of production-ready Diamond Glass panelsthis year so that we have devices or at least oneby 2019. As of now, there is no way to verify these claims. While expecting them to arrive as per schedule this time could be seen as wishful thinking, we really hope the company s assembly line does not hit a snag.
Which Brands Could Use the Diamond Display?
The company is extensively engaged in testing these displays with phone makers and is likely to sell it to a single brand per category for one simple reasonexclusive bragging rights. Initially, the company is limiting its reach to smartphone manufacturers but couldextend its roots into the market of wearablesonce this foray is successful. Which brands could use the technology is difficult to ascertain, but it would be brand that makes lesser number of devices and banks largely on its display technology.
While one of the obvious guesses is Apple, it is safe to presume Samsung vying to implement this on the Galaxy S10 or SX whichever rows Samsung s boat. Further, if Razer hits off well with its smartphone gig, we might witness Diamond Glass protecting the glorious 120Hz screen on the Razer Phone 3. Sony is known to cram high-resolution panels in small sizes and could be among the brands Akhan is planning to partner with. Other names that come to mind are Huawei and Xiaomi which have lately been on the track to topple mightier competitors. Keep the guesswork flowing, tell us which brands you expect to use the Diamond Glass screen.
Potential Competition from Self-Healing Displays
To mitigate the problem of breakage of screens, Motorola took a route opposite from Akhan. Instead of stiffening the display, Motorola s idea of an unbreakable display involves flexibility and someinspiration from memory foam. In August last year, the company patented a shape memory polymer which could be used torepair damaged parts of the screen by applying heat. Compared to solutions like Sapphire or Diamond Glass, Motorola s solution is much cheaper. Motorola envisions that at later stages, heat from human body could be enough to fill into these breakage gaps.
Furthermore, a serendipitous accident recently led scientists at the University of Tokyo to discover a polymer known as polyetherioureas thatcan be repaired by simply pressing and doesn t require heat. This could also be, as the scientists confide, can be used in smartphones and other devices that use glass panels.
SEE ALSO:120Hz vs 60Hz Displays: What s The Difference?
Are you ready to be dazzled by Diamond Glass displays?
As someone who has gone through the pain of watching multiple smartphone screens shatter, it simply amazes me to see that we might soon run into a holy grail of unbreakable smartphone displays. But as with other technologies like Gorilla Glass and Sapphire glass displays, the commercial idea could be less effective than how it is being marketed and that is something that we can only see after the launch of Diamond Glass in 2019.
If it really puts an end to display cracking, I hope most users would not mind paying a premium to secure their devices from nasty and unsightly screen cracks. Some others will argue in favour of repair programs like Apple Care but with many companies struggling to provide services, especially in developing countries where smartphone adoption is slowly picking up, having a foolproof solution like the Diamond Glass makes much more sense to me. So we might finally have diamonds be called best friends to both women and men alike.
Do you think diamond will be the perfect companion for butterfingers? Let us know in comments below.