Newton’s invention may lead to greener TV screens

July 23rd, 2008 - 11:32 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 23 (IANS) Engineers in the US have developed TV displays based on a telescope design invented by Isaac Newton to reduce the display’s electricity consumption. The rear layer of a conventional liquid crystal display (LCD) used in televisions produces light (backlight), whose brightness is controlled by small liquid crystals that swing round like tiny shutters. However, most of this backlight is wasted and never reaches the viewer.

Swapping the liquid crystals with microscopic mechanical mirrors arranged in a similar way to a telescope design invented by Isaac Newton can make much more efficient use of the backlight.

Anna Pyayt of the University of Washington, Seattle, worked with engineers at Microsoft to create the new “telescopic pixels”, NewScientist reported.

The displays using these telescopic pixels are more power efficient and easier to read in direct sunlight than conventional displays.

In the new design, each circular pixel has a thin metal mirror facing back towards the display’s backlight, with a 40-micron hole in the centre. A second mirror is positioned below and is slightly larger than the hole.

When a telescopic pixel is dark, the main mirror is flat. Both mirrors bounce light back to the backlight, away from the viewer. But when a voltage is applied to the main mirror it bends into a parabolic shape, focusing light onto the second mirror and out through the hole. The pixel appears lit up to the viewer.

“You could build a brighter monitor for the same amount of energy or use less energy to get the same brightness,” Pyayt said.

Telescopic pixels can also switch on and off around twice as fast (1.5 milliseconds) as a typical TV LCD. That means an image can be changed faster, preventing blurring of fast-moving objects.

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