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Displays

Better Displays With New Nanowire Film 127

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-take-one dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "A Harvard University team has successfully applied a film of nanowires on glass and plastic. This might lead to better and flexible displays or wearable computers, says the American Chemical Society, in "Nanowire film brings cheaper, faster electronics a step closer." "By using a 'bottom-up' approach pioneered by our group, which involves assembly of pre-formed nanoscale building blocks into functional devices, we can apply a film of nanowires to glass or plastics long after growth, and do so at room temperature," says Charles M. Lieber, professor of chemistry at Harvard. The researchers think that the first applications will be improved smart cards or LCD displays. But they also have a vision for the next decade. "One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around." This overview contains more details and references. It also includes a picture of a high-density crossbar nanostructure, whose geometry can serve as the basis for many applications, like bio-sensor arrays or high-density data storage."
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Better Displays With New Nanowire Film

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  • On contacts? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Friday November 07, 2003 @08:50AM (#7415925)
    Can you actually focus on something which is that close to your eye?
    • Re:On contacts? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by squiggleslash (241428)
      I don't know about the technology, so I may be talking out of my arse, but I would think it's possible to have the nanowires "focus for you". They're going to be emitting light. If they can emit light in a specific direction, like a laser, then they'll be able to make sure the light hits the correct point on the photo-receptors in your eyeball.

      Now, obviously, if they can't have the light emitted go in a particular direction, then a different solution will have to be found...

      • There's an angle I hadn't thought of...

      • How long until the millitary gets a hold of this for contacts... Night vision contacts... zoom contacts....

        Will they be able to create images like a HUD? Process info from a recon bird, and display enemy locations on your contact lens, with distance, and position...

        Will the be hijackable?

        Ok strange trip down a detour
        • How about if a company made night vision, zoom contacts? Rather than destroying stuff with the new tech, it could be used to make stuff. The military is a really bad jobs/tech development system; it's necessary only as the foreign policy enforcer of last resort. Unless you're a nationalist/socialist - in which case, the military is your be all / end all.
          • On the contrary, the military is great for research. That's half the purpose of large defense spending; to drive technical progress. Why do you think the US was closing down bases at the same time it was increasing spending for creating high tech equipment? And if you think about it, since alot of research does not have immediate applications, it is not profitable for corporations to do the research unless you give them extremely heavy handed "IP" rights, which end up retarding research. So the only place f
            • Even under direct government management, compare the return on investment from NASA's budget since 1960, and the Department of Defense. Probably better than 1000:1 in favor of NASA. Consider the return in 2003 if $100B of the $500B defense budget was instead spent in academic labs, compared to what it'll return from the Pentagon. Consider a real "tech jobs program" if the money was spent in Commerce Department grants/loans matching American corporate R&D budgets. Meanwhile, consider the damage done to t
    • Re:On contacts? (Score:2, Informative)

      by wtrmute (721783)
      Perhaps one can blur the image purposefully to make it seem farther away. One problem with wearable computers today is that they force their wearer to focus on something close with one eye while the other cannot focus on the same distance. This leads to a pretty headache after a while...
      • One problem with wearable computers today is that they force their wearer to focus on something close with one eye while the other cannot focus on the same distance. This leads to a pretty headache after a while...

        Bring this on! I have a really wacked prescription (+4.00 left eye and -1.00 right eye) and lack the parallax error needed one form of depth perception. This technology was practally built exclusively for me.
    • And the receiver would have to be really small.

      I call bullshit on this one.

      • Why would the receiver have to be in the contacs themselves? The information could be transported on the liquid film covering your eyeballs.
    • If your contacts are running windows (whether in focus or not) and you're driving, gives a whole new meaning to blue screen of death.
    • Can you actually focus on something which is that close to your eye?

      Can you say repetitive eyeball stress syndrome?

      (Although popups on pron sites already cause this, most don't complain due to embarrassment)
    • It's possible, in the sense that you could create a lens that would create an effective focal length of a comfortable distance (like a camcorder viewfinder) so that content on the back face of the lens would be clear, but the lens geometry would probably have to be so large that you couldn't actually close your eyelid over it.
    • I should think they'll make them for given sizes of eyes, in several grades, with each light-emitting element pointing at the proper place in the eye.

      Note also that the lens does not have to have the whole computer in it, nor a power storage medium. It needs only to have enough of a computer to run the display, some sort of (hopefully secure) wireless networking, and an antenna to pick up power. Where you broadcast the power from is up to you but something with a relatively harmless frequency on your coll

  • Just one word (Score:4, Insightful)

    by heironymouscoward (683461) <<heironymouscoward> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Friday November 07, 2003 @08:53AM (#7415943) Journal

    Hype.

    Anything with 'nano' or 'cyber' in the name is hype. Yeah, we will see smaller cheaper electronics, but that's hardly news.
    • The miniaturization isn't hype -- this is another step toward those (literally) scrolling displays.

      But as for the term, I must agree. This certainly isn't "nanotechnology". Nano has become what (shudder) "mega" was in the 80's.
      • If nano has become mega, that's really going to fuck up scientific notation.
      • "Mega" still plagues us today. Last wednesday, I was watching a nice episode of Scrapheap Challenge. When the commercials came, suddenly I was bombarded by an extemely loud noise and the title, "Junkyard Mega Wars".

        *shudder*, *gasp*

    • Dr. Lieber has long been publishing in the area of nanowires, I have read plenty of his and his peers' papers. The importance of this work has nothing to do with contact lenses or futuristic devices that Spielberg loves to put on Tom.

      The problem that the semiconductor industry is facing right now is the ever more-expensive optical lithography systems. As the device features shrink down, we are getting more and more to the point where wavelengths will approach the X-ray spectrum. This is a whole new world o
    • You forgot 'extreme'. I guess to make it an even better product you drop the 'e' and just make it Xtreme.

      Xtreme cyber nano insert product here. sure to get lots of hype.
  • Useful (Score:5, Funny)

    by dwalsh (87765) on Friday November 07, 2003 @08:53AM (#7415944)
    "One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around."

    So while you are walking around in the city, you get to see what it looks like. Hmm... Pity you can't do that now.
    • Re:Useful (Score:3, Interesting)

      by squiggleslash (241428)
      Thinking about it, this could be used for good, and for evil:

      Good: The contacts overlay useful captions where there currently isn't one, giving you street signs, direction signs, making it obvious from a distance where to get food, where the ATMs are, etc. Enter details of where you want to go, and the bus that'll take you there can be highlighted when it comes towards you.

      Bad: It's sold as that, but funded by advertising. Everywhere you look there's an ad for X10.

      • Hey!

        If they would promise me that they would give me all those nifty voyeur ads of what I *could* see with an X10, hell why not ;-)

        Come on! Free soft pr0n when you're walking around the city is Not a Bad Thing (TM).
  • walk around (Score:3, Insightful)

    by termos (634980) on Friday November 07, 2003 @08:54AM (#7415945) Homepage
    One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around.

    Considering we are geeks, going to a new city doesn't involve walking around, more like visiting conventions and getting the latest cool funny-phrase-sysadmin-tshirts.
    Take away the walking part mister, and you have yourself a deal.
  • Fault Tolerance? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by supersmike (563905) on Friday November 07, 2003 @08:54AM (#7415946)
    Anyone notice what appears to be a broken nanowire towards the bottom left of the picture? I wonder what kind of fault-tolerance these sturctures have for that sort of thing.
  • Contacts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maxdamage (615250) on Friday November 07, 2003 @08:57AM (#7415961) Journal
    How long do you think it will take untill somone decides it would be funny to hijack someones vission and hack their contacts? It could be someone trying to be funny, just make the person think their seeing things... Or it could be someone trying to blind them... Just imagine waking up, putting on your contacts and being tourtured by avertisments, IN YOUR EYES. Thats a future that I am terrified of!
  • "One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them"

    my eyesight is bad enough as it is, the last thing I need are electronics short-circuiting in my eyeball.
  • Invisibility? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cableshaft (708700)
    This might lead to better and flexible displays or wearable computers Could this be used to further "invisibility" research? For example, wear a suit of these displays and have a camera record a panoramic video around you and display the appropriate camera displays around the body?
    • The problem is that it has to take the viewing angle into account, so given that you can never really be usefully invisible to more than one or two people at a time, and their locations must be known. Still not useless, but not amazingly useful in most situations either.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The real question is how long until I can get some nice Adware to pop up on my contacts?
  • by madsen (17668) <madsen@@@iki...fi> on Friday November 07, 2003 @09:06AM (#7416003) Homepage
    The mention of the contatct lenses made me think of Zaphod Beebelbrox and his glasses (or was it someone else) that helped him to never be scared. The glasses went black when danger was imminent.

    That could be really cool when driving.
  • "One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around."

    Until the spamming starts! [slashdot.org]
    =Smidge=
  • I don't know about anyone else but I certainly wouldn't stand for having to wear contacts when I don't need them simply to get "bonus material". Glasses, sure, but having watched people try to put in/manipulate/not drop the things it is certainly an activity I wouldn't want to participate in. YMMV though...
  • Great idea (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ancil (622971) on Friday November 07, 2003 @09:11AM (#7416034)
    One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around.
    One could imagine the decidedly non-virtual experience of getting creamed by a passing truck. Gives whole new meaning to Blue Screen of Death.
    • You beat me to it. Yes, it's bad enough people walk around with cell phones not paying attention to where they are going. Gripe. Gripe. I predict that 90% of the time Future-Dude walking around with the nano-contacts will be watching the football game and paying no attention to cars, trucks, manholes, etc.
  • Movies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pvt_medic (715692)
    If this contact thingy works out, think about the fun you could have with it. The ultimate in interactive experience since you only see what it lets you. You could have a personal movie theater with incredible resolution at yours hands... i mean eyes.
    • Pretty much the biggest problems with current VR glasses is that you can get motion sickness, because the display lags.

      With contacts, you would have to not only track head movement, but also eyeball movement and compensate it without perceptible lag.
  • Displays embedded in contact lenses would be orders of magnitude less clumsy than even lightweight VR helmets. At that scale they could probably be powered by eye motion (as some watches are powered by wrist motion), or you could embed miniature solar panels where the contact lense covers the iris, with the LCD just covering the pupil.

    • The only problem would be when the pupil adjust sizes for different amounts of light. But still a very good idea... maybe just a portion of the iris... kinda give you a strange looking eye though.
  • eye zooming (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dew-genen-ny (617738) on Friday November 07, 2003 @09:19AM (#7416080) Homepage
    What I'd like to see is contacts that implement both a display and an ccd or the equivilant, so that we can zoom in on objects that are in the distance....would be so wicked.....imagine being able to use them like a microscope as well....would be good.
    • Re:eye zooming (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It would probably be easier to use a clear polymer that can be shaped electrically. Create an adjustable lense to zoom in and out, rather than try to cram more electronics onto your eyeballs.
    • OK the zooming is great for perving attractive young women but most of the rest of the time I require Peril-Sensitive and Monotony-Sensitive functionality so I just dont have to look at it.
    • I'd think you'd be better off with a handheld unit or two that could communicate with whatever computer is operating the display(s). This has the added advantage of being able to go places your head cannot.
  • meanwhile, in Japan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grummet (161532) on Friday November 07, 2003 @09:21AM (#7416090)
    hi everybody.
    umm, gosh, don't know if i missed this news elsewhere in western media but last week on ABC (Asahi Broadcast Corp.) Japan there was a review of recent nanotechnology advances here in Japan and they reported that:
    1) A Yamagata University research team has managed to make flexible millimeter thick screens (roll up your TV and stick it in a tube, into your backback, pocket, whatever and away you go..!) ALREADY so I don't understand what the big deal is with these nanowires. Plus the Yamagata people figured out how to use a kind of "nano-dye" for multiple applications like:
    a) flexible thin solar cells (your tent is a battery charger!) or
    b) a blue "lens" to increase the data storage on those recently reknown expensive blue laser cd's that store gigs of date. (20 times more (?))

    Sorry for the lack of net based info but it looked pretty amazing - heck, I saw it on TV so come on,
    it must be bran' spankin' new!

    - Jeff -
    • The problem is that that is all "micro" not "nano".

      The awfull truth of the matter is that there is NO nanotechnology in use or realistically close to use right now outside of catalysts and better paints.

      It is very popular now (especially in Japan... where this all started) to claim anything cool is nanotechnology. These wire meshes we're talking about here are many orders of magnitude smaller than your millermeter screen. It would be like saying we don't need skyscrapers, we already have two story house
  • Seriously, for people who aren't soldiers are able-bodied, what is the point of wearable computers? This reminds me of the "toaster that's on the internet... for some reason" hype.
  • Fiction (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alrescha (50745) on Friday November 07, 2003 @09:23AM (#7416100)
    "One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around."

    Someone did imagine this sort of technology. I particularly like "Fast Times at Fairmont High" by Vernor Vinge for it's description of wearable computers/contacts use for visual 'enhancement'.

    A.
    • I can trump that 2001 short story with William Gibson's 1993 book "Virtual Light" (I'm sure by now someone else will have mentioned it on this thread), which invented the term "augmented reality" for this stuff (IIRC).

      Chevette Washington is a bicycle messenger turned pick-pocket who impulsively snatches a pair of innocent-looking sunglasses. But these are no ordinary shades. What you can see through these high-tech specs can make you rich--or get you killed.

      For those who haven't read it, the shades show
  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Friday November 07, 2003 @09:34AM (#7416150)
    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/10/13/ 0016221&mode=thread&tid=127&tid=146&tid=186&tid=99 [slashdot.org] and we'll really have something.

    Be able to manipulate the interface in your eye with only your mind.
  • by cerulean (99519) on Friday November 07, 2003 @09:39AM (#7416175) Homepage
    Techniques to make thinner wires will probably be useful for improving the efficiency a whole range of optoelectronic devices:

    For LEDs, some light that might escape the device is reflected or absorbed by the tiny wires carrying the current into the junction. Thinner wires would mean an improvement (though perhaps small at this point) in the amount of light you get out of the device.

    With light going in the other direction, photovoltaics (solar panels) and various detectors are all about getting as much light into a junction as possible, so thinner wires would help make better devices here too.
  • ...

    This sounds like a fantastic new technology. Being able to shrink high resolution to a usable size for photo-realistic displays would be great. But I think the idea of contact-lense screens or glasses with inbuilt displays particularly exciting as it could/would revolutionise computers.

    Wearable computers are a much discussed idea but I feel that without a feedback display there are pretty useless. Now we have the possibility of it getting much closer...\

  • I'd just be happy with contacts that could sense the amount of ambient light and adjust their opacity to compensate. UV protection would be good too.
  • Anybody heard whether there has been any progress on getting LEPs [wired.com] from Cambridge Display Technologies into mass production?
  • Could just see it...

    "honestly officer, my contacts turned totally black when I hit I-285. I couldn't see a thing, but I could still talk on my cell phone so I did." ...

  • ... about this a few weeks ago. "Nanowires make flexible circuits [trnmag.com]" TRN Oct. 22/29
  • I want a few thousand nanomachines wired right on to the rods and cones of my retinas, telling them when to fire and when not to.
  • by Brutal_One (682848) on Friday November 07, 2003 @10:29AM (#7416567)
    Anytime stories like this pop-up, everyone always discusses how neat it would be to overlay information about a city and the like.

    Forget contacts the zoom, forget contacts that shoot freakin' laser beams. How about contacts that make my vision 20/20? My corrected vision is 20/35 and my contacts can only be worn for 7-8 hours a day then I have to wear coke bottle glasses because there isn't anything better.

    My brother-in-law has Retinitis-Pigmentosa [retinitis-pigmentosa.com] which is a degenerative disease of the retina. He was diagnosed 7 years ago and is down to 10% of his vision which is stricly peripheral. Imagine a spoon in front of your eye and you can only see off to the sides.

    A better use of this technology would be contacts that can adjust his line of sight to the best position on his eye.

    Or to assist the vision of the elderly who often times can be helped with glasses or contacts.

    Instead of coming up with "new" "cool" ways to use this, why don't we use the technology to help the people that need it? The people that surround us everyday?

    • Because of capitalism, products are developed in the interests of maximising PROFITABILITY, not for the good of mankind.
    • " Instead of coming up with "new" "cool" ways to use this, why don't we use the technology to help the people that need it? The people that surround us everyday?"

      I don't mean to sound cold-hearted, but I have no doubt that the devices you want WILL be developed. Its just not going to be developed first.

      Sorry, suck it up. Thats the way the world works. This has much more potential aside from just correcting someone's vision. To whine about the fact that that isn't the first application for it is like wh

  • So - did anyone else out there see 'nanowire' and think that this might be one step toward the development of shigawire?
  • "One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around."
    Just pray that AOLTimeWarnerNetscapeYadaYada doesn't get their dream role as enforcers of homeland security -- you'll have checkpoints verifying you are wearing your "training [adl.org]" lenses.
  • Wasn't there a scene in Total Recall where they could simply hit a button and switch the "windows" between various scenery and info-displays? To me this is incredibly useful as we start packing more and more people into high-rises around the world and eliminating our access to nature.

    Not that I like eliminating access to nature, just saying that would probably sell... Replace your window that looks at the neighboring building and alley with a nano-wire device that can display mountains, skyline, sunset,
  • by Anonymous Coward
    EPSON already released something far better...
    http://neasia.nikkeibp.com/wcs/leaf?CID=onair/asab t/news/275239 [nikkeibp.com]
  • by angedinoir (699322) on Friday November 07, 2003 @11:38AM (#7417140)
    for instance, contact lenses with displays

    "Yes, is this tech support? I think I have a virus in my contact. Everywhere I go, everyone's face is being replaced by banner ads.... Yes, I see it. Yea, it says gator. What I'm screwed?......"
  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Friday November 07, 2003 @12:13PM (#7417479)
    There is already a "standard" way to move nanowires from a substrate to glass or plastic.

    This may be difficult for some of you to believe, but the standard technique is to use scotch tape. It's quite amazing, but you can pick up an array of wires on scotch tape (a similar array to that in the article). Then you simpliy place the tape wherever you want your wires and dissolve it away.

    Of course you're still left with the same problem as on the substrate which is that no one understands how or why these arrays do whatever they may do (which is generally NOT reproducible). Everyone has been shouting molecular electronics for so long that they havn't stopped to actually check that it IS molecular electronics. A timely article in Science last month basicaly served as a retraction for the last 5 years of research in this field.

    It's fine for them to report that they found a new way to move nanowires onto glass or plastic, but the days of saying these types of networks are only a few years away from market are over.
  • Isn't the virtual tour buzzword the kiss of death for new technology? Look what happened to VRML.
  • I know I have (somewhere) kicking around in my files a drawing I drew up as an "invention" of contact lens VR devices. Now, I know some of you are thinking "yeah, right" - but it is the truth. I was originally imagining the devices to use hard contacts, with a grid on the contacts driving LCD type elements. I also thought that the electronics would be on the edges of the contacts (which would be mainly driver electronics, pickup "coils" for power supply and datacomms, and position sensors to tell which way
    • I know I have (somewhere) kicking around in my files a drawing I drew up as an "invention" of contact lens VR devices.

      Unless that's in a envelope, sealed and mailed to your laywer, forget about your prior art claim once they patent this. Kicking around in my files does not qualify. ;-)

      • Oh, I never thought it did. I didn't even get the thing notarized - even at the time I drew it up, I had the thought that someone, somewhere, had already thought about this, and that likely a patent already floated around in the PTO's database...
  • everything I expect from wearable technologies and intelligent clothes is that my socks find their pair after laundry :)

  • Nano acrobatics!

    X-Ray contact lenses!!

  • Great. Now we can drive and get a virtual analysis of our insurance rates skyrocketing appearing before our eyes as we crash into that ferrari that we missed because we were getting a virtual tour of the city that we were driving through. Hmmmm, I'm sold.
  • Contacts with displays? Just imagine the test taking possibilities. Put all your notes in your eyes and then take the test. Same with speeches. Who needs a teleprompter when you have it in your eyes. Or Imagine Karaoke. That would be pretty cool as well. Or attach a gps and you can get interactive directions to anywhere in your contacts. Or truly realistic porn. I mean the possibilites are endless! Screw Virtual Tours.
  • One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around.


    Okay, can it give me a full red color flood with various data graphs and numbers floating around and a cursor? I want to experience walking around with Terminator eyes for a few days.
  • The picture on the 'overview' page that the story links to is not from the Lieber group, and also not made in the same way.

    It is a picture from the Heath group at Caltech, and the wires are made in a so-called SNAP process. Read about it in the Science article (PDF) [caltech.edu]

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