Scientists use nanotechnology to paint a bigger and brighter picture
German scientists say they have developed a lens technology that will enable minute projectors to fill a wall with colour in a sun-filled room.
The new technology - which is due to be unveiled later this month - involves shining a bright LED lamp through a panel containing 250 micro-lenses. The optical unit measures only 11mm square by 3mm thick.
"The special thing about the new projection technology is that the image is already integrated in the micro-optics,” said Marcel Sieler, a physicist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering.
“Pixels measuring just a hundred nanometers or so are stored in a chromium layer under the lens array. Such a micro-array has around 250 micro-lenses, and under each lens there is a micro-image. When all of them are projected onto the wall together, a high-quality complete image is produced from an extremely small projector."
Images displayed using the technology already rival resolutions delivered by high-quality glass optics, but the prototype is far smaller and could be mass produced, according to the researchers. They could be built into matchbox sized projectors that could be run off a smartphone or laptop.
Although the initial demonstrations are expected to involve projectors, the scientists claims the arrayed lenses could work equally well for capturing images in cameras.
"The commercial prospects for ultra-flat micro-optical systems are excellent because they open up numerous new applications – like mini cameras," the researchers said.
"The leap in manufacturing quality achieved in recent months can be compared to the advance in television from the cathode ray tube to HDTV."