Ars Technica: LCDs still have a lot of room for improvement, as they only transmit 5-10 percent of the total backlight to the user, and can account for up to 30 percent of the total power consumption of a laptop.
In this week’s Nature Photonics, researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington report a new display technology called “telescopic pixel” that transmits 36 percent of backlight radiation.
The new pixel design is based on a tried-and-true technology: the optical telescope. Each pixel consists of two opposing mirrors where the primary mirror can change shape under an applied voltage. When the pixel is off, the primary and secondary mirrors are parallel and reflect all of the incoming light back into the light source. When the pixel is on, the primary mirror deforms into a parabolic shape that focuses light onto the secondary mirror. The secondary mirror then reflects the light through a hole in the primary mirror and onto the display screen.
Given the substantial performance gains, amenability to current fabrication methods, and Microsoft’s involvement, this report could signal the beginning of a new display technology. These displays have the potential to be faster than LCDs, more scalable than plasma, and cheaper and more energy efficient than both.