Porotech in Cambridge has developed the world’s first microdisplay based on native red indium gallium nitride (InGaN) in a key step to commercialising augmented reality glasses
The microdisplay developed by the University of Cambridge spin-out has an active area of 0.55 inches diagonally and a resolution of 960x540.
Until now, it has only been possible to produce blue and green microdisplays using GaN-based light-emitting devices with red emission relying on devices based on aluminum indium gallium phosphide (AlInGaP). However AllnGaP struggles at the small pixel sizes required by AR, so there is a drastic efficiency drop as the device size decreases. And, to produce a full-colour display, the light from different panels has had to be combined.
The Porotech development means that, for the first time, all three light-emitting elements can be produced using a single toolchain, removing the complexities of mixing devices based on different material structures and so reducing the cost of manufacturing small displays for AR glasses.
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"AR technology is set to be a game changer and micro-LEDs are particularly vital for the advancement of AR interfaces," said Dr Tongtong Zhu, CEO and co-founder of Protech. "In traditional liquid crystal displays (LCDs) the image is a result of both modulating and filtering the light from a white back-lighting module. As such, most of the light created by the panel is wasted by the very working principle of the display. In addition to this inefficiency, the various filtering, diffusion and modulation stages of the LCD display impose limits on how lightweight the final display can be.
"Emissive display technologies, on the other hand, only produce the light that is required of them – allowing for the final devices to potentially achieve much higher efficiencies. Self-emitting displays based on inorganic semiconductors can also be produced in monolithic fashion, allowing them to more easily scaled down than traditional LCD or organic semiconductor displays – allowing for smaller, lighter, brighter and reliable high-resolution displays to be made."
"Porotech's new class of porous GaN semiconductor material is now redefining what is possible – enabling the creation of efficient and bright native red InGaN micro-LEDs and microdisplays," said Zhu. "This has been the missing piece of the puzzle until now. As well as reducing costs, the bright native red can push the maximum achievable wavelength to 640nm and beyond – a first for microdisplay visualisation. Our breakthrough is now set to accelerate the commercialisation of AR glasses as well as heralding a new era of brighter, sharper, more vivid microdisplays for products such as smartphones and smartwatches."
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