UK researchers develop ultra-thin displays

A team from Oxford University has created an entirely new class of ultra-thin, ultra-high resolution displays with nanosecond access speed and no power consumption in static mode.

The technology has a range of applications in the rapidly growing microdisplay market, and can be used in compact, projection-based displays such as those of emerging near-eye applications.

Headed by Dr Peiman Hosseini of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, the researchers’ nano-display device uses optical and electronic property modulation in Phase Change Materials – materials that are also used to create CDs and Blu-Ray discs.

Dr Hosseini said: “The ultimate, most difficult yet most exciting application of this is the building of a high resolution nano-display.

“In, for instance, a Google Glass device, you need to display a picture or video on a very small screen in front of you. This display must have a very high resolution when magnifying the image.

“On Apple’s latest retina display system, one pixel equals 66 micrometres. With our technology, the whole picture must be only 79 micrometres in size.

“Our device is also three times the speed of existing technologies, which is essential as if the image is too slow in refreshing, it will cause the user nausea. Importantly, it also does not consume power when resting, conserving battery life.”

The first prototype displays are currently under development, with a small working device set to be completed within the next 12 months.

One of the first applications of the display is likely to be in smart jewellery that can change colour with a very pure brightness, and Hosseini and his colleagues are currently speaking with a major brand to develop this. Other applications include security-tagging systems.

Dr Hosseini was named on April 1, 2015 as a runner-up in the Royal Academy of Engineering’s ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs’ Award.