Smartphone users touch their phones hundreds of times a day. But special glasses are also doing their bit in secret to make mobile devices of the future more powerful.

A telling example can be found in photography: Modern high-end smartphones are capable of taking photos with a resolution of ten or more megapixels. But it’s not just the number of pixels that has an impact on the reality and sharpness of photos.

Besides the so-called CMOS sensors, the filters placed in front of it have a major impact on the picture quality. High-quality filters are made of glass, as are the protective glasses that protect the camera module from scratches. The filter plays a vital role for cameras with a resolution greater than five megapixels: it is an absorbing near-infrared cutoff filter (NIR cutoff filter). These filters show their strengths especially with difficult light and extreme photographic conditions and are able to make photos look more realistic. Researchers are currently working hard to make NIR cutoff filters even thinner to support the trend toward ever slimmer smartphone designs.

Ultra-thin glass – not just the perfect fit for curved designs

SCHOTT has been advancing the development of its ultra-thin glass for many years. With industrially manufactured thicknesses of down to 30 micrometers, the ultra-thin glass penetrates into spheres that hardly anyone would associate with glass. Glass thinner than a human hair offers a wide range of application possibilities in electronics.

SCHOTT AS 87 eco is a specialty glass that is perfectly suited for these types of applications. It is produced in Germany in an environmentally friendly manner. The glass delivers an ultra-thin and ready to use thickness range, is extremely robust and flexible, and offers unique physical properties. For example, it has excellent transmission characteristics that are particularly important to fingerprint sensors. Furthermore, the unique production process eliminates the need of harmful acids for further slimming. The application fields are quite diverse. SCHOTT AS 87 eco could also be used as protective glass for curved displays, for instance.

The ultra-thin glass is drawn directly from the melt in the desired thickness using the so-called “down-draw process”. This technology is a trailblazer for ultra-thin glasses for use even at the nanometer level of tomorrow’s chips and sensors.

Specialty glass with a penchant for silicon – for use in sensors and 5G antennas

Just like SCHOTT AS 87 eco, SCHOTT MEMpax® is also pulled directly from the melt using the down-draw process. The special feature of MEMpax is that the linear coefficient of thermal expansion corresponds to that of silicon. Furthermore, this glass is ideally suited for anodic bonding. It can be joined with silicon, the chemical element that is the basis for ever-faster computer chips, processors and sensors in the semiconductor industry, by using a special process.

The extremely homogeneous material is not only suited for use as an ideal substitute for expensive polymers in sensors of the future, but also as a substrate for the integration of high-frequency applications. This bulky term means nothing more than to assemble as many circuit elements and antennas as possible in a very small space in an optimally developed component while enabling higher performance. This is particularly interesting for multiple input/multiple output radio systems (Massive MIMO), which serve as the basis for the 5th generation telecommunications networks, the LTE successor “5G.”

In Massive MIMO concepts, dozens of antennas are combined inside a small space. The increased number of antennas is intended to not only increase transmission speed, but also guarantee stable connections to as many users as possible in defined spatial directions. This is particularly advantageous when many receivers meet in a small space, such as in soccer stadiums or dense city centers. This more targeted transmission also allows for the transmission power to be reduced.

MEMpax® has many more advantages: In addition, it is significantly more metallizable than Teflon, for example, a standard material for high-frequency systems.

It seems like the love story between glass and silicon is just starting.

Glass-made guardian angel

Smartphones and sensors are everywhere these days! Thanks to a trend first seen in iPhones, fingerprint sensors which improve the level of data security are increasingly being used in other devices. It is no wonder the manufactures of Android are eager to implement this feature in their products as well.

How often do we touch our smartphones?

How often do we touch our smartphones?
Please touch - wearables

SCHOTT glass can be found at several locations within smartphones.
Beside the display it also secures sensitive components such as fingerprint sensors or makes high-res photography possible.
February 23th, 2017