With “SCHOTT LAS80”, the technology group SCHOTT has now expanded its family of lithium aluminosilicate glasses to include a high-potential product for the booming market for cover panels and touch panels for use in consumer and computer electronics. As an extremely thin, chemically strengthened cover glass, it gives the displays of smart phones or laptops a surface that resists breakage and scratches and looks very attractive. The global launch will take place before the end of the year.

The world’s touch panel market appears to have grown wings. Revenues from the sale of touch screen modules reached $4.3 B in 2009. According to a forecast from the market research firm Displaysearch from mid-2010, the volume is now expected to increase by 18 percent per year and reach $14 B by 2016. Nevertheless, one key prerequisite to the success of popular touch-sensitive screens is that they require attractive touch panels that are sturdy and yet as thin and light as possible.

SCHOTT has responded to the growing demand for a suitable type of glass material by offering SCHOTT LAS80. This product that is already being used in the highly resistant front windows of high-speed trains is now also available in thin glass quality with a thickness of only 0.5 millimeters as the minimum dimension. The lithium aluminosilicate glass is chemically strengthened using potassium nitrate, among other substances, to instill extremely high surface strength and up to five times higher breakage resistance than conventional flat glass offers. Manufactured using the microfloat process, SCHOTT LAS80 offers a number of advantages for applications: high chemical resistance, excellent scratch resistance and fracture toughness and outstanding surface quality with respect to its roughness and flatness. This material resists high mechanical stress, like impacts and drops or is durable against moisture from rain and sweat, i.e. the hard stresses of everyday use of electronic devices. This means SCHOTT LAS80 can be used as a cover glass for a variety of display applications, from smart phones and cell phones to portable gaming consoles, e-books, cameras and camcorders, laptops and desktop monitors.

In competing with other products, SCHOTT LAS80 also scores points with its great flexibility. Features like scratch resistance or fracture strength can even be customized during the manufacturing process. The unusually low transformation temperature (Tg = 506° Celsius) is also of great advantage in efficiently manufacturing 3D glass geometries using different forming technologies. This feature helps to reduce manufacturing time, saves energy and extends the lifetime of the molds.

Nevertheless, SCHOTT LAS 80 isn’t the only glass from SCHOTT for use in cover and touch panel applications; the environmentally-friendly low alkali thin glass D 263 T eco is a chemically resistant borosilicate glass that is available in up to 30 micron thick panes and used to manufacture displays for navigation devices for vehicles, for example. The crown glass B 270 is well-suited for use in so-called surface-wave touch panels. With this range of glasses, SCHOTT is able to accommodate all of the most common touch panel technologies, from resistive touch technology to surface acoustic wave sensor technology (SAW) and the projected capacitive sensor technology that is well-suited for use in multi-touch panels.