Today's automotive windshields are commonly made with two layers of tempered glass sandwiching a sheet of optically clear polyvinyl butyral (PVB), a plastic layer that holds everything in place even when the glass is broken. While the basic design works very well (credit Henry Ford with introducing laminated glass in 1919), scratches and chips in the glass weaken the material to the point where it may eventually crack and require replacement.
But those headaches may disappear if Corning's Gorilla Glass becomes an industry standard. Gorilla Glass is the registered name for the durable and scratch resistant glass that covers the face of more than 1.5 billion consumer electronic devices. Whether the maker of your smartphone, tablet or PDA admits it or not, chances are good that you've got the material close at hand.
Having a windshield that is scratch and chip resistant is a big improvement, but there are other advantages to Gorilla Glass, says Corning. The company's senior vice president, Jeffrey Evenson, told MIT Technology Review that the glass is lighter than what is used today, and it provides a better acoustic barrier from outside noise.
As is often the case with innovative technologies, Gorilla Glass doesn't come cheap. Even so, Evenson predicts that at least one unnamed high-end automaker will introduce a vehicle with Gorilla Glass within the year. Any guesses on whom it will be?