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Optoelectronics/Displays  

Nano-pixels open path for flexible, high-res displays

Posted: 17 Jul 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Oxford University  nano-pixel  phase change material  high-resolution display 

"Because the layers that make up our devices can be deposited as thin films they can be incorporated into very thin flexible materials, we have already demonstrated that the technique works on flexible Mylar sheets around 200nm thick," said Bhaskaran. "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."

Peiman Hosseini of Oxford University's department of materials, first author of the paper, said: "Our models are so good at predicting the experiment that 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 (static pixels remain as they were). This means that any display based on this technology would have extremely low energy consumption."

The research suggests that flexible paper-thin displays based on the technology could have the capacity to switch between a power-saving 'colour e-reader mode', and a backlit display capable of showing video. Such displays could be created using cheap materials and, because they would be solid-state, promise to be reliable and easy to manufacture. The tiny 'nano-pixels' make it ideal for applications such as smart glasses, where an image would be projected at a larger size as, even enlarged, they would offer very high-resolution.

Professor David Wright of the department of engineering at the University of Exeter, co-author of the paper, said: "Along with many other researchers around the world we have been looking into the use of these GST materials for memory applications for many years, but no one before thought of combining their electrical and optical functionality to provide entirely new kinds of non-volatile, high-resolution, electronic colour displays, so our work is a real breakthrough."

Bhaskaran said that the discovery would not have been possible without the support of the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): "EPSRC have been funding our fundamental research and this chance discovery shows just where support for so-called 'blue skies' research can lead."

The phase change material used was the alloy Ge2Sb2Te5 (Germanium-Antimony-Tellurium or GST) sandwiched between electrode layers made of indium tin oxide (ITO).


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