Researchers at Qualcomm MEMS Technologies have built a display technology that harnesses natural ambient light to produce a range of colors and viewing quality. The display also reduces the amount of power used in multiple consumer electronics products; Qualcomm says the power savings could surpass current backlit technologies tenfold.
The technology uses a structure made of a mirror and an absorbing layer to take advantage of the wave properties of light, according to Qualcomm. This is the latest version of an existing commercial product called Qualcomm Mirasol.
The structure uses a combination of a mirror with a thin absorbing layer separated by a controllable gap. This gap is able to filter out a narrow slice of the spectrum, thereby coloring the reflected light. It is controlled to produce nearly every conceivable color, not just the red, green and blue of earlier display technologies.
“We have developed an entirely new way of creating a color display,” says John Hong, a researcher with Qualcomm MEMS Technologies Inc. “The incredibly efficient display is able to create a rich palette of colors using only ambient light for viewing, much like the way we would read and view printed material.”
Hong and his colleagues used a property of light called interferometric absorption to create a broad spectrum of colors.
The new display reflects more of the incoming light and enables the full spectrum of visible light to be displayed, including bright white and deep black. Essentially, it is a two-layer device consisting of a first layer of a thin absorbing material that lets most of the light pass through to the second, mirrored layer where it is reflected back upon itself.
The design has a panel that is about 1.5 inches across and contains around 149,000 pixels. Both the resolution and area of the display, however, can be scaled to match those of various mobile devices such as Internet-of-Things enabled wearables and smartphones.