Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have developed a new method for displaying images on a digital screen which does away with the need for sub-pixels that could lead to a tripling of resolution in the near future. Results were published in the journal Nature Communications.
The new method relies on the ability to change the colour of each individual pixel using electrical voltage. Most electronic display monitors available right now are comprised of hundreds of thousands of pixels, each containing three sub-pixels – one red, one green, and one blue.
“We can make a red sub-pixel go to blue, for instance,” said study co-author Professor Debashis Chanda. “In other displays that is not possible because they need three static colour filters to show the full RGB colour. We don’t need that now; a single sub-pixel-less pixel can be tuned across a given colour gamut.”
Doing away with the need for three static sub-pixels means the size of each individual ‘macro’ pixel can reduced: three times the pixels – three times the resolution.
Apart from making TVs, smartphone displays and other digital screens sharper, the new method could be especially useful in virtual reality headsets because of their extreme proximity to the eye.
“A sub-pixel-less display can increase resolution drastically,” said another co-author on the study Daniel Franklin who’s a doctoral student at the UCF. “You can have a much smaller area that can do all three.”
Additionally, eliminating the need for sub-pixels means that – with every pixel being on all of the time – displays built using the new method would also be significantly brighter than the ones we have today.
Building on previous research, the team utilised an embossed nano-structure surface, which resembles an egg crate, covered with a layer of reflective aluminium.
Having gone through a number of different variations of the underlying structure, the researchers found that modifying the roughness of its surface allows for achieving a full range of colours with a single structure.
According to the research team, the nano-structure will not require engineers to scrap entire decades-worth of LCD technology as it can be easily integrated with existing displays.
The team is now working to scale up their displays and then deploy them to the market.