SOD USING THE FORCE, if a fighter pilot wants to hit an object with high precision, they want crystal-clear targeting images displayed on their craft’s windshield. That’s the thinking behind ultra-fine pixel displays being developed by the US Air Force.
Boffins at the University of Michigan have created a new breed of LCDs with pixels ten times smaller than the ones on standard computer monitors. The work was funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Dr Jay Guo and colleagues at Michigan have created a colour filter for LEDs using specially etched nano-scale sheets of metal and an electrical insulator, which the team have named “plasmonic resonators”. The interaction between light passing through the slit on to the nano-sheets results creates a tiny coloured pixel – the colour varying depending on the shape of the slit.
As a result, Gou and his team have created a tiny LCD pixel that is very energy efficient. "We hope to show that the fabrication of these structures can be scaled up to large areas and can be very cost effective," said Guo.
Traditional LCDs need polarizing layers, filter sheets, electrode-laced glass along wit the liquid crystal layer to produce images. That means much of the backlight used to illuminate the LCD gets wasted.
The US Air Force is now investigating how to incorporate the technology in to virtual displays integrated in to pilots’ windshields. µ
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