Germs are everywhere, from door handles to bathroom stalls to elevators and beyond. But Corning is working to put the kibosh on germs that may come a little to close to your mouth.

Corning just took the cover off its latest innovation -- antimicrobial Gorilla Glass -- at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It is the first EPA-registered antimicrobial cover glass.

As touch technologies proliferate, consumers are becoming aware that bacteria can exist on mobile devices, particularly as we increasingly share touch-enabled surfaces at home, work and elsewhere. Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass aims to address this concern.

How it Works

The glass is formulated with an antibacterial agent, ionic silver, which is incorporated into the glass surface for sustained activity. Process and metrology innovations offer precise control of silver levels necessary to preserve the mechanical, optical, and dielectric properties of Corning Gorilla Glass.

“Corning’s Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass inhibits the growth of algae, mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria because of its built-in antimicrobial property, which is intrinsic to the glass and effective for the lifetime of a device,” said James R. Steiner, senior vice president and general manager, Corning Specialty Materials.

“This innovation combines best-in-class antimicrobial function without compromising Gorilla Glass properties. Our specialty glass provides an excellent substrate for engineering antimicrobial and other functional attributes to help expand the capabilities of our Corning Gorilla Glass and address the needs of new markets,” he said.

Better Than Wipes

Antibacterial wipes, foams, sprays, and films exist today, but they are temporary, and many device manufacturers advise against them. Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass can be installed in electronic devices such as computers, cellular phones, calculators, telephones, and other electronic display panels. Corning sees frequently touched interior architectural surfaces in the health care, hospitality, and transportation industries as other potential markets for its product.

We asked Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, for his take on the antimicrobial glass. He told us this is welcome news for smartphone users.

“Smartphones are the devices that we hold the closest to our hands and mouths and certainly attract a lot of spit, whether we want them to or not. If there’s one thing that should be antimicrobial, mobile handsets would be at the top of my list,” Entner said.

“It is only be a question of time before we see this glass on smartphones. There are already some microbial devices. But if you can make anything you touch or bring close to your mouth and eyes and ears antimicrobial it’s not a bad idea," he added.

Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass is being tested with manufacturers for various applications, and high-volume production capability has been demonstrated. For example, the RoomWizard by Steelcase, a web-based room scheduling system, will feature Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass and will be showcased at CES.