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July 25, 2016

Shattered or cracked smartphone screens could soon become a thing of the past, as a new super strong glass has been unveiled.

New York glass maker Corning has just unveiled its latest version of Gorilla Glass—the material used in more than 70% of smartphone screens, including on Samsung, Apple and LG devices.

Called Gorilla Glass 5, the new chemically strengthened glass was formulated to improve drop performance from gadgets that are dropped onto rough surfaces from certain heights—specifically, waist height to shoulder height.

The company said the glass could survive more than 80% of drops from as high as 1.6 meters.

A global survey cited by Corning revealed that 85% of smartphone users have dropped their devices at least once in the past year.

In laboratory tests, the company dropped phones face down on to "rough, unforgiving surfaces," such as sandpaper, from waist and shoulder height.

Some of the phones tested survived over 20 hard drops in the lab.

As well as drops, Corning said Gorilla Glass 5 was twice at good at resisting scratches and other damage compared to what's currently on the market.

Device manufacturers are expected to unveil products with the new glass within the next few months.

Corning places glass into a "hot bath of molten salt" that heats up to 752 degrees Fahrenheit.

The process causes sodium ions to leave the glass, and potassium ions from the salt bath replace them.

Because potassium ions are larger, they produce a "layer of compressive stress" deep inside the glass that resists damage.

This technique means there is no human contact needed in creating the glass, eliminating defects and removing the need to treat the glass afterwards.

Corning's work in specialist glass dates back to 1879, when it produced the glass used in the iconic Edison lightbulb.

By 2016, more than 4.5 billion devices use Gorilla Glass.

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