MEMS will help Sony build displays

Sony Corporation and Silicon Light Machines, developer of a silicon-based digital display technology used in high-performance imaging applications, have signed an exclusive licensing agreement.

Sony Corporation and Silicon Light Machines, developer of a silicon-based digital display technology used in high-performance imaging applications, have signed an exclusive licensing agreement for Silicon Light Machines’ Grating Light Valve GLV technology to accelerate its introduction into the market.

Sony disclosed that it would focus on GLV-based display systems, and will be entitled to the exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights for GLV devices and GLV products for most display applications, while SLM said that it would focus its efforts to develop products for other imaging applications and the rapidly growing field of optical communications. The GLV technology was originally developed and patented by Professor David Bloom and his students at Stanford University. To create a GLV device, Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) techniques are used to form tiny picture elements, or pixels, on the surface of a silicon chip. Each of these pixels is made up of multiple ribbon-like structures, which can actually be moved up or down over a very small distance (only a fraction of the wavelength of light) by controlling electrostatic forces.

The ribbons are arranged such that each pixel is capable of either reflecting or diffracting light. This allows an array of pixels, when appropriately addressed by control signals, to form a pattern of light and dark points on the surface of the chip. An image is created by collecting the reflected or diffracted light with an appropriate lens system, either to be projected onto a front- or rear-screen system, or to be viewed directly by the eye. Because a GLV device is reflective, it is highly efficient in its use of light.

Sony plans to apply the GLV technology to build large-scale projector systems that use lasers as a light source. GLV components will be used to precisely diffract laser beams onto the screen to recreate images that are bright, high in contrast and supreme in colour reproduction.

GLV devices offer a relatively simple solution for large-scale projectors when compared to other types of display components that use a two-dimensional array to recreate the entire image area. Instead, GLV components generate a vertical line of 1080 pixels only, which are scanned horizontally by a mirror to recreate the entire image of 1920 x 1080 pixels at the rate of 60 frames/sec.

Read more about the technology at www.siliconlight.com.