Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

MIT Develops Inexpensive Transparent Display Using Nanoparticles 87

rtoz writes "Researchers at MIT have come up with an innovative approach to creating transparent displays inexpensively, while providing wide viewing angles and scalability to large sizes. To create the transparent display, silver nanoparticles are embedded in plastic, tuned to scatter only certain wavelengths of light and to allow all other wavelengths through. In this example (video), it is tuned to scatter only blue color using 60nm silver particles. The researchers believe that it can be easily enhanced to a multicolor display by creating nanoparticles that can scatter other primary colors. The ability to display graphics and texts on an inexpensive transparent screen could enable many useful applications. For example, they could bring navigation data to windshields of cars and aircraft, and advertisements to the sides of skyscrapers. Cheap 'stick-on screens' could be developed using this technology. The messages broadcast on nanoparticle screens are accessible from virtually every angle. Transparent screens themselves are not new; for example, Google is working on Google glass. But they are expensive. This MIT invention will help to produce transparent displays easily and inexpensively."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MIT Develops Inexpensive Transparent Display Using Nanoparticles

Comments Filter:
  • by blindbat ( 189141 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @01:44PM (#46037105)
    Blue screen of death will have a whole new meaning if that pops up on your windshield.
    • by iksbob ( 947407 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @02:06PM (#46037375)

      That came to mind for me. The "display" they appear to be demonstrating uses a projector to illuminate desired areas of nanoparticles. The new technology here is that the particles respond to a specific bandwidth of light, letting others through. If one had a bright light of that specific bandwidth (say, a deliberately de-focused laser), he/she could illuminate the screen from another location, blinding the driver if the screen covered a large enough area of the windshield.

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Cars? Depending on the resolution (and they are using nanoparticles, while film used grains of silver) we're looking towards having holographic computer displays in the near (?) future.

        The way a hologram (that uses film) works is, you take a laser and a dark room and unexposed film. IIRC (and it's been almost four decades since I took that class) you split the beam, and illuminate the film with one half of the beam (focused IIRC) and the subject with the other.

        When you develop the film there's nothing recog

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        If I had a bright light, I could blind the driver no matter what.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you watch the video (skipping the useless talking parts), you will see that the product demos are in front of a very dark backdrop. When the random hand picks up a MIT mug behind the active elements on the screen, the purple color becomes very washed out by the mild lighting off the mug.

    I'm not sure whether this is a raw power problem or a limit of the method they are using, but it needs something more before it can even work in a dimly lit room. If they get it to work under standard fluorescent office

    • The nanoparticles are sized to only interact with a certain wavelength and smaller, in this case, purple. Any larger wavelength light will pass right through.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is an unlisted wall!

  • and I will never buy your product again. Hell if I'm in an accident due to your advertisement and I survive, I'll sue you into oblivion and guess what, Your insurance company is not going to cover you.

    One thing this tech may be used for is improving vehicle safety by providing a better HUD (heads up display) for things like a NiR (near infrared) and UV camera that allows me to see the fucktard driving w their headlamps off just after sunset because he thinks he don't need them.

    How about seeing the damn idio

    • There is no potential for this to be used as a better HUD. One of the fundamental principles of HUDs is that they use reflex optics. The image is not projected onto the glass but rather is reflected off of the glass and focused such that it appears to be at approximately the same distance from you as whatever physical object it is being displayed in front of. This is done so that you do not have to continually refocus your eyes to flip between the display and your forward view.

      The only real value for suc

  • A little misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by Professr3 ( 670356 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @02:06PM (#46037379)
    According to the abstract, this is a projection screen only. They fill a transparent sheet with tuned nanoparticle subpixels, and they project monochrome light onto the subpixels that are tuned to the color of light they want. So, it still requires an external monochrome image projector with at least three times the resolution of the "transparent display". It'd be simpler to just fill a transparent sheet with *regular* silver particles and use a *regular* color projector. The science is cool but - as usual - impractical for this particular use
    • Not only that, but notice that the demo video conveniently has them moving a set of cups behind the screen, none of which are blue. The glaring omission here is what happens if something blue does get moved behind the display - like say when you're out driving and a blue car goes past, or you look at the sky? Does that get badly distorted/dimmed? And if so, and I want an RGB version of this, what happens?

      It would be sweet if you could project e.g. IR light at it and have that come out with a frequency shift

      • How badly things get distorted probably depends on the specific frequencies of light they choose to represent the primary colors; how common those specific frequencies are in nature; and how tightly tuned the silver nanoparticles really are (how much of the light a little above and a little below the target frequency also gets reflected). If they can target the frequencies closely enough and choose shades that aren't quite as common, then the effect might not be very notable. If they can select all three c

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "It would be sweet if you could project e.g. IR light at it and have that come out with a frequency shift, but that doesn't seem to be what's happening."

        You would need a fair bit of power to upshift. You need almost none to downshift. You can do it, though. There are 'green' lasers that are made from dual red lasers timed just so and thus the apparent wavelength is effectively a ~530-550nm 'green'

    • by Animats ( 122034 )

      Right. Mode parent up.

      MIT's "nanotechnology" articles are getting really bad. Their press office overhypes every little effect someone demonstrates into "big new product really cheap real soon now".

    • Yes and no. By tuning the particles to very specific frequencies they can make the material more transparent than something that scatters light in general.

      Screens that scatter general light already exist - a fairly well-known example is a DILAD screen, which uses microscopic bubbles. MIT's screen looks to be significantly more transparent than a DILAD screen. DILADs work best with rear-projection, while MIT's seems geared for front-projection. DILADs are used for advertising displays, trade shows, and - mos

      • Yes. You can improve the transparency at the cost of a huge increase in complexity, but DILAD screens are already perceived as essentially transparent by the normal human eye. Again, not sure how this is going to be useful except in a research facility :\
  • by torkus ( 1133985 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @02:07PM (#46037391)

    ...is as a projector screen that is only reflective at one very specific wavelength. It doesn't emit any light...there are no pixels...nothing about it changes what parts light up.

    It's still quite novel...i'm not sure why they couldn't be more specific (or less misleading?) in describing it.

    Keep in mind it's not totally transparent - see how the table looks yellow behind it? Add red and greed and you're going to reduce the incoming light further. They said it can be tuned...so could be changed to avoid any of the peaks in LED, CFL, and daylight. Will be interesting to see where this goes...but if they start painting cars and buildings with this it's going to do odd things to the incoming light.

  • I'm curious if this can display black. One big problem with AR glass displays is drawing the color black. This could be a big a pretty big deal for AR glasses!
    • You cannot do black on a reflective or emissive screen without material to absorb light. These reflective screen technologies work by adding light on top of whatever you are already seeing... kind of like an additive alpha overlay where "black" simply means don't add anything to whatever is already there.

  • It reminds me of something you'd see in a 70's or early 80's British scifi TV show, like Doctor Who or Blake's 7. Some sort of plexiglass being used as a monitor.

  • It's a cool demo, and a neat idea, but I keep hoping that the era of projection of images is winding down, with direct displays taking over. Even with advanced aspherical optics and laser projection there's limit to how close you can get to your viewing plane and still have a good display image.

  • They could also be used to develop transparent displays for, say, a really cool looking cell phone or tablet! And then ten seconds after buying it, everyone would realize how hard it is to read on them.

    It will be like glossy vs matte on your laptop screen: you will know that it looks cool until you need to use it, but idiots buying them will make it hard to find anything else.

    I guess I probably shouldn't worry about minor annoyances in consumer electronics in the future based on undeveloped technolog
  • Stack a bunch of these screens into a cube or sphere to create a volumetric display.
    • Unfortunately this is just a projection screen that happens to only reflect the color blue, so only the outer layers would have an image projected on them. Your best bet for voxels would be sandwiched monochrome LCD.
      • Or... use different wavelengths of light for different depths, and have the nanoparticles arranged in concentric rings per "slice", so you'd end up with 3D voxel objects, but they'd be psychedelic tie-dye rainbow colored.
  • To be useful for windshields, I think it would be necessary to allow light in from the outside (into the car) regardless of wavelength. I watched the video but it wasn't clear to me that they could make the reflection only occur on only one side of the surface.
  • Cool, p0rn while I'm driving.

  • Weren't OLEDs supposed to deliver a lot of that same stuff a few years ago? What ever happened with that?
    • by TheSync ( 5291 )

      Weren't OLEDs supposed to deliver a lot of that same stuff a few years ago? What ever happened with that?

      You can purchase the Samsung KN55S9C â' 55" OLED Smart TV today, and they are expecting 65" and 75" later this year.

      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        Well I remember one of the big thing with OLEDs was you were going to be able to have a stick-on transparent display that you could put anywhere. I guess they just promise that with every new display technology that comes along.
  • Actually, it looks like the background is translucent, not transparent. Also, the foreground looks almost opaque!
    I'm working on a real transparent display, where both the background and the foreground are completely transparent.
    Where do I get me some of that venture capital?
  • If you have an old LCD screen with a burned-out CFL tube, you can pull of the back diffusers and have a fully-transparent LCD display.

    Sure there's no self-illumination whatsoever so you need to have it against a bright background (eg a window during the day), the the effect is rather novel.

    Most of the power needed to drive monitors is in the backlight, so chances are the power supply will be unnecessary. You'll probably be able to power it from the +12V/5V lines of your computer PSU.

    If you're lucky and get

    • Most LCD displays, even older CCFL-based ones, use less than 50W so there would be no problem powering most of those off the PC's PSUs if LCDs and PCs had such power options. With the USB3/3.1 power spec going up to 5A @ 20V and LED-lit LCDs usually using less than 30W unless either very large or very bright, we might actually see PC-powered 20+" displays in a year or two.

  • Is that really the official MIT logo? Terrible...

  • ... the "wake me up when it displays full colour" messages?

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.