Imagine having a pair of contact lenses integrated ultra-high resolution display, This could be the future of digital signage with scientists from the University of Oxford, who adapted the material currently used to store data on a DVD and convert it to a radical new technology screens.
Writing in Nature, they say that the material could pave the way for a new generation of screens that are thinner, lighter, higher resolution and lower power consumption than existing technology.
They can even be mounted on flexible or transparent surface, which increases the likelihood of the adoption of e-readers and smartphones for things like a car windshield and contact lenses.
Development depends on the same process that turns water into ice cubes in your freezer. Many substances undergo changes in structure when they changed the temperature, like going from solid to liquid, crystalline or non-crystalline.
This phase change materials currently used for a variety of applications, from computers and DVD rewritable memory for an advanced form of home insulation.
The team led by Professor Harish Bhaskaran, explores the use of phase change materials such as germanium antimony telluride (GST) when they realize that they may be able to use it to generate color screen.
They took the GST layer only nanometers thick and is sandwiched between two layers of ultra-thin transparent conductors, and stuck to the surface of the mirror.
The researchers estimate that by varying the thickness of the transparent layer, they can change the color of the reflected light, and the phase change of GST, they can switch from one color to another.
They then build a prototype to see if the matter can be changed from gray to blue when heated. Thinner, lighter, higher resolution
"We could not believe it. Worked on the first attempt. So we tried it with other colors and work well," said Bhaskaran.
"I experiment for a long time, and I've never seen it work well on the first attempt."
The researchers then used an atomic force microscope head to draw a monochrome image on the surface.
They also built a single pixel using a transparent electrode, which is an important step in producing a workable screen technology.
Bhaskaran said the technology has many advantages over the existing screen.
Nanometer-thick film, the screen can be ultra thin and light, and once the screen image does not require power to stay.
And because only a nanometer pixels, potentially screen resolution is much higher than what is achievable with current technology, such as LCD and organic LEDs.
Although it is still too early for phase change technology, Bhaskaran and his team hope that he can migrate from the laboratory to the electronics store a few years.
"We have filed a patent and we develop a prototype monochrome," he said.
"We wanted to show that he can make a video on the screen is very small for a super-high-resolution screen that may be. Hopefully this will be done by the end of 2015. If successful, then we will take it from there."
This technology is a very novel use of phase change materials available, said Dr. John Daniels, a professor of materials science at the University of New South Wales.
"This is an old technology equipment used for the popular new application," said Daniels, who was not involved in the research.
However, there are still significant obstacles to make a display technology that can be applied.
"My biggest concern is the variety of colors and contrasts that the technology can produce a big question mark. They could make it competitive with the market leader in real hardware, namely organic LEDs, in terms of quality."
But he admits that this is an industry that is growing rapidly and new technologies that can achieve rapid dominance.
"Is it still far from the first demonstration of the first application., But this is an area where things could go from the laboratory to application in a very short time because the dollar is so big if they have something better what is on the market this. "