Samsung to use a hybrid glass-polymer in its upcoming foldable OLEDs

According to reports, Samsung is gearing up to introduce their first foldable OLED smartphone device by the end of 2016, as Samsung's mobile phone unit is under pressure to innovate and recapture its lost market share.

Transistors deposited on Solip Technology's Hybrimer

According to an interesting report from Korea, Samsung has been collaborating with a KAIST spin-off called Solip Technology that developed a foldable glass that will be used in Samsung's upcoming foldable OLEDs. Samsung is considering placing a strategic investment in Solip as this material is a key technology for Samsung.

Solip's flexible glass product is called Hybrimer (hybrid - polymer) - and it's actually a flexible glass combined with organic materials like plastic. It is thin (50-um), clear, strong and scratch resistant.

Foldable phone concept (KIPost)A foldable phone concept

Samsung will use this new flexible glass as a cover glass and encapsulation layer, on top of the polyimide substrate and the OLED frontplane architecture. It is interesting to note that Solip's glass apparently outperformed competing materials from Sumitomo and Gunje - and also Corning's Willow glass which has been in development for many years. In fact, according to the report the new material is even strong than Corning rigid Gorilla Glass.

Foldable OLED concept (2013)Foldable OLED concept (2013)

A foldable device may be the innovation that the mobile phone industry has been waiting for in the last few years. We've seen foldable displays demonstrated by several companies, including Samsung, Nokia/SEL and ITRI.

Samsung indeed seems to be quite close to actual foldable-display commercialization and demonstrated two foldable OLED prototypes towards the end of 2014 - a 5.5" (WQXGA, 2048x1526, 464 PPI) panel that folds in half and a 10" tri-foldable AMOLED (Full-HD, 218 PPI).

Samsung's original plan was to release a foldable phone in 2015, but this obviously will not happen. Market research company IHS actually expects Samsung to release the first foldable phone in early 2016. The OLED Association also expects Samsung to show a foldable smartphone, but only as a prototype or "near-production" model.

Posted: Feb 18,2016 by Ron Mertens