Samsung has been throwing around ideas and plans regarding flexible and foldable OLED displays for quite some time now. Not long ago, they filed a patent application for a full-blown foldable smartphone, indicating that the relevant technology may be close at hand, if not already here. Part of that technology is what covers the display. A user obviously can’t put their fingers on a bare OLED display without damaging it, but regular old glass, such as Corning Gorilla Glass, would simply break instead of bending. Rather than manufacturing something in-house or devising a workaround of any sort, Samsung has partnered up with startup Solip Technology, who has developed a display glass that they’re calling Hybrimer; a hybrid mix-up between glass and polymer that can be bent without breaking, while still being as smooth and translucent as glass.
The Hybrimer material, made by combining organic and inorganic compounds, is made to be tougher than regular glass and not get bent out of shape with repeated folding and unfolding. This is, after all, going to be on a folding smartphone. With how often the average person checks their phone, the material would need to be stress tested. That’s exactly what Samsung and Solip did; they tested a slab of the material by folding and unfolding it to a 3 millimeter radius 100,000 times. The material did not lose its original shape, nor were there any structural or visual changes. The material is also said to be just as strong as Corning Gorilla Glass, if not stronger, with a hardness rating of 9H+.
Samsung was looking around for some time to find the perfect partner for their foldable displays. They looked to Sumitomo and Gunje out of Japan at one point, but wound up settling on Solip Technology and their Hybrimer material. The folding smartphone project from Samsung, called “Project Valley”, has been in the works alongside Hybrimer since 2014, with both technologies developing hand in hand to become the perfect compliment to one another. A Samsung rep said of Hybrimer and the deal, “Since hybrimer is one of core technologies to realize foldable smartphone, Samsung seem to review the method of carrying out equity investment in Solip Technology.”