Sheffield University scientists have proposed a revolutionary new way of making micro-displays that brings higher resolution, speed and efficiency with it.
Aimed at the next generation of smartphones, smartwatches and VR headsets, the Sheffield team led by professor Tao Wang and in collaboration with Harvard and MIT, have used micro laser diodes – microLDs – to develop ultimate micro-display and visible light communication devices.
Micro-displays are currently used in smartphones, smartwatches, augmented reality and virtual reality devices.
Visible light communication technology on the other hand offers much greater bandwidth and efficiency than WiFi or 5G and can be used where radio frequency emissions are controlled or do not work such as in aircraft, hospitals, underwater and hazardous environments.
A key component of both these technologies are III-nitride visible light-emitting diodes (LEDs), but using laser diodes (LDs) instead has the potential to achieve devices with even higher resolution, speed and efficiency, explains Wang.
His team and collaborators are thus working on integrating microscale semiconductor light sources and transistors on a single chip.
The Sheffield-led project is already being supported by global tech companies such as Microsoft, Sony and Plessey.
According to Wang, the significantly increasing demands on micro-displays are pushing the requirements for ultra-high resolution and ultra-high efficiency.
“Several fundamental challenges with fabrication and electrical driving methods cannot be met by existing technologies therefore a disruptive technology needs to be developed,” notes Wang.
“Unlike any existing photonics and electronics fabrication approaches, our research will explore a completely different approach to monolithically integrate microscale laser diodes (μLDs) and high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) on a single chip, where each μLD is electrically driven by individual HEMTs.”
Industrial experts predict that the global micro-display market is destined to reach $4.2 billion by 2025 and the visible light communication market is expected to exceed $8 billion by 2030.
Image and content: University of Sheffield