Nanotechnology is one of those fields with so many theoretical applications, but so few practical ones, that it can make you wish the time-space continuum would stop being so sluggish and just make it 100 years from now so that we could cure all diseases with nanobots, have clothing that monitors our vitals, solve pretty much anything with quantum computers, and walk around looking like this. J/k, Raiden sux.
What doesn’t suck, though, are better LCD and OLED displays. That picture above is the result of work at the University of Michigan: the team has created a filter out of metal gratings with openings only a few hundred nanometers wide. That allows certain wavelengths of light through, providing color and creating a tiny display. That’s what’s so special about that Michigan logo…it’s only about 9 micrometers high.
Nine micrometers. That’s the size of a red blood cell. You could fly that thing as a flag in a football game between microbes. It’s the size of the ship in The Fantastic Voyage!
What does that mean in terms of an iPhone-sized LCD display? The pixels on this display would be eight times smaller than the iPhone 4’s “Retina Display”. Now that’s pixel density. Granted, this will probably produce a higher pixel density than what the human eye can even process, but that’s not what it’s about, is it? It’s about telling people how many pixels you have.
Not to be outdone, the University of Florida has been using carbon nanotubes to create their own nanotech displays…but they’re going the OLED route. Their use of nanotubes and other materials instead of polycrystalline silicon has the potential to create an OLED display that is not only much less expensive, but also much more energy-efficient. In fact, these nanotube OLEDs could use as little as 10% of the energy of current models. And that means more battery life for your Samsung phone. Or, you know, whoever else has been beating their chests about AMOLED displays being the best thing ever. Plus, this means cheaper, more efficient flexible displays, which means we’re closer to awesome wrist computers…or to just having a really thin display that you can wave around like a piece of paper and go “woooooowwwww”.