Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Scientists hail nano-pixel images

The image of a wave is smaller than the width of a human hair

They are good enough to hang in a gallery, but each of these stunning images is smaller than the width of a human hair.

Scientists created them using a new imaging technique which could pave the way to ultra-thin flexible displays.

A tiny current was used to "draw" the pictures within an optical sandwich containing a "phase changing" material that can switch from a flowing to a crystalline state.

The system relies on "nano-pixels" just 300 nanometres across that can be electrically turned on or off to create the mosaic of coloured dots that make up the images.

Professor Harish Bhaskaran, who led the Oxford University team, said: "Because the layers that make up our devices can be deposited as thin films they can be incorporated into very thin flexible materials.

"We already demonstrated that the technique works on flexible Mylar sheets around 200 nanometres thick. This makes them potentially useful for 'smart' glasses, foldable screens, windshield displays, and even synthetic retinas that mimic the abilities of photoreceptor cells in the human eye."

The Oxford scientists have filed a patent on the invention with the help of the university's technology commercialisation company, Isis Innovation.

A description of the technology appears in the journal Nature.

Dr Peiman Hosseini, from Oxford University's Department of Materials, said: "We can tune our prototype 'pixels' to create any colour we want - including the primary colours needed for a display.

"One of the advantages of our design is that, unlike most conventional LCD screens, there would be no need to constantly refresh all pixels. You would only have to refresh those pixels that actually change. This means that any display based on this technology would have extremely low energy consumption."

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