SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2011 > Touch Panels

New glass products for cover and touch panels from SCHOTT are extremely durable. Demanding scratch tests demonstrate this (below). Photo: SCHOTT

Touching Allowed

SCHOTT is the only manufacturer that offers special-purpose glass for use with all cover and touch technologies under its new umbrella brand Xensation®.

Alexandra Meinhardt

Today, anyone interested in buying either a cell or smartphone pays particular attention to one main feature: that it has a touchscreen. Market researchers at Digitimes Research discovered that of the 1.45 billion mobile devices sold in 2010, over 563 million units came equipped with the highly attractive touch interface. That is almost 40 percent of the market and they forecast double-digit annual growth in the future. But, notebooks, tablet PCs, computer monitors and car navigation systems that feature touchscreens are also becoming increasingly popular.
Photo: SCHOTT/video-art
Source: SCHOTT
There are currently four core technologies that allow for direct interaction with what is being displayed. The so-called “resistive” touchscreens respond to pressure by pushing two electrically conductive layers together. “Capacitive” panels rely on a conductive interlayer, and use a change in the electric field to locate the point of contact. ”Surface Acoustic Wave” or SAW touchscreens use ultrasonic sound waves, and recognize acoustic pulses to determine the touch position. Lastly, ”optical” systems use infrared light based detection systems.

Each of these technologies is suited for a different type of display application, but each requires glass materials with specific properties. With its new Xensation® family, SCHOTT now offers a complete range of high-quality flat glasses for all cover and touch applications: Xensation® Cover 3D is a thin, chemically strengthened, lithium aluminosilicate glass for capacitive systems that is widely used for smartphone and tablet PC displays. It features a surface that is visually attractive and extremely scratch and break resistant. Furthermore, the unusually low transition temperature (Tg = 506 degrees Celsius) allows for the efficient production of sophisticated three-dimensional glass formats. Xensation® Touch is resistant to chemicals and environmental influences. This highly transparent borosilicate glass has already proven its worth in millions of car navigation systems as it is perfect for resistive touchscreens. It is available in thicknesses as thin as 0.03 millimeters and is therefore considered to be the world’s thinnest glass of its kind. Xensation® Look has good transmission characteristics, especially in the infrared, but also the visible spectrum. For this reason, this borosilicate glass is well suited for use in optical touchscreens, like those found in notebooks. Finally, the clear crown glass Xensation® Sound features all of the transmissive qualities needed to transform acoustic signals in SAW touch panels, especially in large format displays.

”With Xensation®, we are currently the only manufacturer that covers the whole range of cover and touch applications. In addition, we have established a Cover & Touch Flat Glass Center of Excellence that brings together 125 years of glass development and production experience with German engineering know-how,” commented Prof. Udo Ungeheuer, Chairman of the Board of Management of SCHOTT AG. The new Center of Excellence provides technical support across the entire supply chain and offers assistance in all aspects that affect optimal process integration. Furthermore, the Center will cooperate with customers on developing and prototyping next generation products. After all, SCHOTT is constantly increasing its presence in the region to ensure that the company remains close to its customers in what is mainly an Asian cover and touch market.