Anyone who owns a high-end Smartphone will have heard the name “Gorilla Glass”. Manufactured by Corning Incorporated, a ceramic and glasswork company based in America, it’s gained fame for providing beautiful screens for devices like the top-end HTC One X. But if you’ve been paying attention to viral YouTube videos, you’ll know that style is not the only redeeming feature of Corning’s flagship product. The HTC One X hammer A lot of people were sceptical about videos like this when first seen – after all, phone cases are manufactured using long-lasting phone models; it could easily have been a metal mock-up, or a CGI fake - but a number of copycat videos (utilizing different branded phones) have since sprung up, confirming the original. Corning has somehow managed the incredible feat of creating a gorgeous, aesthetic masterpiece, which goes beyond long-lasting and almost brushes the name “indestructible”. But how have they managed such a thing? According to Corning’s website, it’s achieved via a process called “ion exchange” - which essentially involves the extreme compression of a surface of thin glass, by immersing the glass into a bath of potassium nitrate. This allows for massively increased toughness over ordinary glass, while also permitting the formation of complex glass shapes. When seen in other contexts, glass toughened in this way retains its shape in a frame, even when completely shattered, similar to bullet-proof glass. Of course, there are disadvantages to this method of manufacturing. The glass cannot be altered once toughened, necessitating complex shaping (such as drilling) before the glass is dipped into the chemical bath. Additionally, the edge of the glass is weaker than the centre; and any part of the glass can be damaged by concentrated impact (such as hammering it against a nail, ironically enough). Above all, it can pose a security risk if used in, say, an office building, because of the tendency of toughened glass to shatter neatly and completely at a certain level of damage, rather than shatter into fragments, like ordinary glass. With all that said, these disadvantages have almost no bearing on the Gorilla Glass utilized in today’s top-end Smartphones. The glass does not require complex shaping; the edge of the glass is reinforced by the phone’s casing; and, of course, there’s no security risk to be had when the glass is neatly shattered (unless you take to hiding minute valuables behind your SIM card). It’s a risk-free proposition with a plethora of advantages, and at a price that’s becoming increasingly affordable.