Advanced Television

Metasurfaces to retire LCD?

February 24, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Researchers from Nottingham Trent University in the UK, the Australian National University (ANU), and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra have created metasurfaces that performance better than current LEDs and LCDs.

Metasurface technology, according to Display Daily (DD) can be used to manipulate the colour, intensity, and direction of light in new and exciting ways, making them useful for a wide range of applications in fields such as telecommunications, imaging and sensing.

“We have paved the way to break a technology barrier by replacing the liquid crystal layer in current displays with a metasurface, enabling us to make affordable flat screens liquid crystal-free,” lead researcher Mohsen Rahmani, Professor of Engineering at Nottingham Trent University, said.

“The most important metrics of flat panel displays are pixel size and resolution, weight and power consumption. We have addressed each of these with our meta-display concept. Most importantly, our new technology can lead to a huge reduction of energy consumption – this is excellent news given the number of monitors and TV sets being used in households and businesses every single day. We believe it is time for LCD and LED displays to be phased out in the same way as former cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs over the past ten to 20 years.”

DD author Omid Rahmat says that the new technology has several advantages over existing methods of tuning metasurfaces. First, it is very fast, with a modulation time of just 625 microseconds, which is more than 10 times faster than the detection limit of the human eye. Second, it is polarisation-independent, meaning it works equally well for light with different polarisations. Third, the metasurfaces are miniaturised and fully solid-state, meaning they can be easily integrated into other devices. Fourth, the tuning can be achieved with very low biased voltages (<5V), making it compatible with standard CMOS electronic devices.

“The researchers demonstrate that this technology has important applications in various cutting-edge gadgets, such as flat panel displays, virtual reality dynamic holography, or light detection and ranging (LIDAR). These devices require fast, solid-state, and transparent optical switches, which are precisely what this technology provides,” says DD.

However, Rahmat also cautions, saying it’s worth noting that metasurfaces are a relatively new and still-evolving technology, so their performance characteristics and manufacturing costs may change as research continues. Additionally, LCDs and LEDs have a long history of development and refinement, and may also continue to improve over time. However, this is a CMOS-compatible, silicon-based chip, therefore, based on mature and inexpensive technologies. With the addition of AI techniques in future development, the researchers believe that they can achieve even better results.

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