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nVerpix Takes Best Prototype Honors in the I-Zone nVerpix Takes Best Prototype Honors in the I-Zone

nVerpix Takes Best Prototype Honors in the I-Zone

Display Week’s Innovation Zone continues to provide an inside look at up-and-coming display technology.

by Steve Sechrist

THE Innovation Zone (I-Zone) has become a top destination for Display Week showgoers.  SID’s I-Zone is celebrating its 5th year, with the same sponsor – E Ink – backing the new and emerging technology showcase.  The I-Zone features both cutting-edge demos and prototypes fresh out of the labs.  This is where you will see some of the most innovative display-related work anywhere.

There were 24 I-Zone participants this year.  This article describes a few of the highlights, but the showstopper, and the winner of the 2016 Best Prototype award, was nVerpix.  The company received the award, which is bestowed on just one I-Zone exhibitor per year, for its Carbon-Nanotube Vertical Organic Light-Emitting Transistor (CN-VOLET).  This 3D design for OLED pixels creates a new architecture by pivoting the traditional horizontal structure and re-orienting the transistor channel to a vertical position.  For more about this year’s winner, see the sidebar, “OLEDs Get Reoriented.”

Elsewhere in the I-Zone, China-based Halation Photonics was showing its new multi-stable liquid-crystal (MSLC) technology that retains its crystal alignment even after the power is off.  Power is only needed to make changes to the display, so like electrophoretic EPH and other bistable technologies, MSLC is very efficient.

Halation’s first applications seem to be in the shelf-label market.  For this, the company developed Whiteon, a black-and-white e-Paper technology.  Other applications include a smart dynamic privacy function, which operates much like 3M’s privacy film for displays.  MSLC technology is dynamic, however, in that the privacy can be turned off and the panel returned to a fully functional display with its conventional viewing angle for collaboration and image sharing.

Lumii is an MIT spin-off company that was showing its light-field engine that accepts 3D models and computes a set of unique patterns that can be printed and stacked, then illuminated by a backlight.  This gives off a multi-view light field that, according to Lumii, can be of any size or dimension.  The technology offers high resolution, large size, high luminance, full parallax, and ease of production.

Maradin showed a full laser-scanning solution based on a 2D MEMS mirror device powered by an RGB laser diode and optics.  This is a laser imaging system/laser scanning and detection device.  It includes a 2D single mirror that uses a small optic (to increase optical efficiency) and combines electrostatic (in the horizontal plane) with electromagnetic (in the vertical plane) sensing, which serve to improve system robustness and performance.  It also offers a rather wide optical field of view (FOV) of 45° (H) × 30° (V), which is a fairly large image/scan area for this small device (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1:  Maradin demonstrated a new imaging system based on laser scanning and detection with MEMS technology.

Components included an advanced photo-diode sensor (APD) that receives the image (it uses the MAR1100 2D MEMS scanner) mirror device that floods the object with IR laser light.  Then data from the image is sent from the sensor to a special processor to crunch it for processing and displays it onto a desktop monitor.  The company also includes a MEMS controller and standard digital video interface.

Last but not least, we discovered at the I-Zone a new technology from Synaptics – founded in 1985 – almost ancient in digital years.  The company was showing off its latest concept device, which it calls “Torch.”  This is a prototype steering-wheel application, which gives force feedback via a haptic-enabled technology called ClearForce.

The group claims its haptic-enabled immersion offers the advantage of gesture validation, improved “no-look” operation, and the ability to avoid accidental activation, all while motoring down the highway.  It was pretty cool to use this concept demo, but my guess is that any pure driving enthusiast would say they would much rather feel the real road than an augmented version of some other kind of human interface device not related to driving.

Synaptics also had another prototype, an ID fingerprint sensor technology it modified for cars.  Its fingerprint sensor can be used for a host of biometric authentication purposes.  This, according to the company, includes online navigation.  The concept included finger navigation capabilities, including, remarkably, a wallet mode for on-line shopping (while you drive??) plus some features to personalize the vehicle and systems, all aimed at “reducing driver distraction,” while at the same time grossly enabling it.  The sweet spot between available in-auto technology and usable in-auto technology remains elusive (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2:  Synaptics demoed a steering wheel (left) and a fingerprint-sensing application, both using its haptic technology.

Each year, the crowds at the I-Zone get larger.  It’s exciting to see so many new technologies.  Many seem far off, but at least a few will no doubt form the basis of future products as yet unimagined.  •


Steve Sechrist is a display-industry analyst and contributing editor to

Information Display

magazine.  He can be reached at sechrist@ucla.edu or by cell at 503-704-2578.

OLEDs Get Reoriented
nVerpix’s award-winning Carbon-Nanotube Vertical Organic Light-Emitting Transistor (CN-VOLET) has roots in an earlier architecture developed by Andrew Rinzler and his colleagues at the University of Florida.  The university spun off nVerpix in 2010 to commercialize the CN-VOLET technology.  The company is now a subsidiary of Nanoholdings.

The earlier architecture was a carbon-nanotube-based vertical field-effect transistor (CN-VFET) that could drive OLED pixels at low operating voltages, according to Rinzler.  The new architecture incorporates the OLED layers in the transistor stack, creating what can be viewed as a light-emitting transistor.

In the conventional TFT architecture, current flows in the plane of substrate.  The CN-VFET configuration conducts the current under the channel layer, at which point it flows vertically to the drain electrode.  This architecture permits the incorporation of OLED layers in the transistor stack.  A top-down look (Fig. 3) shows that the new architecture can deliver an aperture ratio of up to 70%.

If you are not a specialist, it may not be immediately evident that the vertical transistor is the current-control transistor.  The switching transistor is still a conventional TFT, and a simple single-transistor a-Si switch serves to drive the CN-VOLET, said R&D head David Cheney.

In its I-Zone booth, the company showed a small monochrome QVGA display.  Although the technology is still a long way from being usable for TV-sized panels with their requirements for very long lifetimes and minimal color shift, it is somewhat closer for cell-phone displays, where the very compact CN-VOLET structure would be especially appealing.

–Ken Werner

 

Fig. 3:  nVerpix’s carbon-nanotube-vertical OLED light-emitting transistor (left) can deliver a much larger aperture ratio than a conventional AMOLED (right).