Smartphone manufacturers may soon lose track of the number of pixels they can display on a pocket-sized screen. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have found a way to create pixels millions of times smaller than those used on Apple's Retina displays. However, extreme pixel density is the least interesting part of this breakthrough.
The pixels are created by first coating microscopically small gold particles – only a few billionths of a meter in size – with an electroactive polymer called polyaniline, whose structure can change the presence of an electric field. This is done in a tub in which the polymer and the gold particles are mixed. The results are then simply sprayed onto a high gloss coated plastic film. It sounds like a surprisingly simple process, and it turns out that this is one of the best features of this new technology: it's relatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture.
Instead of exciting a chemical material to emit photons, the light is actually trapped between these microscopic gold particles and the reflective support to which they adhere. Despite the small size of the pixels creates a light that appears much larger and brighter to the human eye even in direct sunlight. The colors of each pixel can also be adjusted over the entire spectrum by applying a specific electrical current that alters the polymer coating of each gold particle. After changing, each pixel retains its color indefinitely, so no constant power supply is required. This new technology is not only cost-effective to produce and flexible, but also cost-effective to operate.
But how practical are these gold dust displays to replace other technologies like LCDs and OLEDs? Researchers at the University of Cambridge have suggested possible applications, such as large-scale screens, architectures that could change their appearance without the need for a paint job, or even garments that could actively camouflage the wearer, such as cuttlefish or cuttlefish They can hide in their environment ̵
But is the refresh rate fast enough to display moving videos? Can the individual pixels be controlled so precisely that recognizable images are created? The team is currently looking for partners to drive the development of their creation, and answers to how far-reaching their applications might be may not be answered for a while.