The smallest pixels ever created ̵
The color pixels, developed by a team of scientists led by the University of Cambridge, are compatible with roll-to-roll production on flexible plastic films, drastically reducing their production costs. The results are published in the journal Science Advances .
It has long been a dream to imitate the color-changing skin of cuttlefish or squid so people or objects can disappear in the natural background. However, the production of large-area flexible screens is still prohibitively expensive, since they consist of high-precision multilayers.
In the middle of the pixels developed by the Cambridge scientists is a tiny gold particle with a diameter of some billionths of a meter. The grain sits on a reflective surface and intercepts light in the gap in between. Each grain is surrounded by a thin, sticky layer that chemically changes when switched electrically, causing the color of the pixel to change throughout the spectrum.
The team of scientists from various disciplines, including physics, chemistry and manufacturing, has produced the pixels by coating vats of golden grains with an active polymer called polyaniline, which are then sprayed onto flexible, mirrored plastic to dramatically increase production costs reduce.
The pixels are the smallest ever created, millions of times smaller than typical smartphone pixels. They can be seen in bright sunlight and have energy efficiency that makes large areas feasible and sustainable because they do not require constant energy to maintain their set color. "We first washed them over aluminized food packaging, but then found that spraying aerosols is faster," said co-chief author Hyeon-Ho Jeong of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.
"These are not the normal tools of nanotechnology, but these a radical approach is needed to make sustainable technologies possible," said Professor Jeremy J Baumberg of the NanoPhotonics Center at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, who led the research. "The strange physics of light on the nanoscale makes it possible to switch it, even if less than a tenth of the film is coated with our active pixels, because the apparent size of each pixel is many times greater than its own for light physical area when using these resonant gold architectures. "
The pixels could allow a variety of new uses, such as building-size screens, solar-warming architectures, active camouflage and coatings, and tiny indicators of Internet-of- Things devices.
The team is currently working on improving the color palette and is looking for partners to further develop the technology.
First flexible graph-based display made
Scalable Electrochromic Nanopixels Using Plasmonics Science Advances (2019). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.aaw2205, https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/5/eaaw2205
Smallest pixels ever created could make color-changing buildings shine (2019, May 10)
retrieved on May 11, 2019
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