Superhuman Vision Coming to Mere Mortals: Page 2


They also constructed a single pixel using a transparent electrode, which is a crucial step in producing a workable display technology.

Bhaskaran says the technology has many potential advantages over existing displays. The layers of film are only nanometers thick, the display can be ultra thin and light, and once an image is drawn on screen it requires no power to keep it there.

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And, because the pixels are only nanometers across, the resolution of the screen is potentially far higher than what is achievable with today's technologies, such as LCD and organic LED.

While it's still early days for the phase-change technology, Bhaskaran and his team are hopeful that it might migrate from the lab into electronics stores within several years.

"We have a patent filed and we are developing a monochrome prototype," he says. "We want to show that it can render video on a really small display to showcase the super high resolution that is possible. Hopefully that'll be done by the end of 2015. If that works, then we'll take it from there."

The technology is a highly novel use of an existing phase-change material, says Dr John Daniels, senior lecturer in materials science at the University of New South Wales. "It's an old material technology being used for a new popular application," says Daniels, who wasn't involved in the research.

However, there are still significant hurdles to overcome in turning it into a workable display technology.

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"My big concern is the range of colors and contrast the technology can produce. That's the big question mark: whether they can make these materials competitive with the real market leader, which is organic LED, in terms of quality."

But he concedes that this is a fast-moving industry, and new technologies can potentially gain dominance rapidly.

"It always is a long way from the first demonstration to the first application. But this is a field where things can go from the lab to application in a very short period of time because the dollars are so big if they have something that's better than what's on the market at the moment."

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