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Phones

Will MEMS displays be the next hot screen tech for smartphones and tablets?

By Stephen Schenck October 1, 2013, 11:46 am

There are dozens of different ways to make the display panel for a smartphone or tablet, involving choices between various semiconductors, backlights, or subpixel arrangements. But when you get down to it, we’re generally looking at just one of two base technologies: LCDs, where a white backlight shines through colored RGB filters and liquid crystals act as shutters to let through or block light for each, and OLEDs, where the individual subpixels emit their own light directly. Is there room for a third option? Sharp think so, and has recently been demonstrating its microelectromechanical screen tech.

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Sharp’s MEMS display can be thought of as a variant on how an LCD works (though more like DLP, if anyone remembers that). Instead of those subpixel color filters, the entire backlight changes between red, green, and blue, in rapid succession. And then, instead of using liquid crystals to control the passage of light, tiny mechanical shutters open and close to let light through at the right time. By carefully controlling those shutter movements in step with the changing backlight colors, Sharp’s able to reproduce an image.

The benefits there include enhanced brightness, but MEMS isn’t without its problems – just as you might recall the “rainbow effect” from DLP projectors, head motion can introduce the same problem here, where those flashes of color don’t quite line up in your eye. Reportedly, Sharp is working on minimizing the issue. So far, the company has a seven-inch 1280 x 800 panel, but maybe someday we’ll see it in smaller sizes and higher resolutions.

Source: PC World

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