LG’s revolutionary foldable display technology lowers wrinkles while being as tough as tempered glass.

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The “Real Folding Window” has the appearance and feel of glass.

LG Chem believes it has discovered a solution to make the dreaded seam on folding phones disappear, or at least significantly less obvious than it is on existing handsets. This technology and other improvements have the potential to pave the way for widespread adoption of foldable form factors, particularly because they promise to overcome an issue that appears to the non-technical customer to be a flaw.

One of the most pressing problems that engineers have when designing foldable phones is how to make the display strong enough to maintain its structural integrity and the ability to produce a clear image. So far, the pinnacle of materials science has allowed them to create devices with displays that bend inward and outward without much of a problem for hundreds of thousands of times, but the side effect is a crease in the middle that never goes away.

LG Chem says it may have found a solution it calls the Real Folding Window. It is essentially a new type of cover material for foldable displays that can last just as long as existing solutions while being much thinner and thus much less prone to forming a crease in the area where the screen folds. Furthermore, it should feel no different to the touch compared to the cover glass found on non-foldable phones.

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Image credit: Digital Chat Station

The wonder material is a specially developed coating laid on top of a thin polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film, conferring enhanced mechanical and heat resistance to the plastic. Despite being only a few micrometers thick (thinner than the human hair), the resulting display cover is as hard as tempered glass and cheaper to manufacture than existing solutions based on polyimide (not to be confused with polyamide) film. Over time, the company hopes to remove the need for PET plastic film altogether.

LG Chem claims the Real Folding Window is guaranteed to fold at least 200,000 times without significant degradation. A crease can still form, but it should be much less visible than what you get with current foldable smartphones, where a single day is enough for the display to give birth to a “fold line” in both in-folding and out-folding designs.

The bad news is LG Chem doesn’t expect to achieve mass-production capabilities for the Real Folding Window until sometime in 2022, with volume sales planned to begin in 2023. The good news is that we can expect to see the technology come to foldable laptops and tablets.

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