Fraunhofer overhauls projector technology

The Fraunhofer Institute says it could replace traditional overhead and digital projectors when it shows off a revolutionary “pocket-sized” projection technology at the nano tech 2011 trade show in Tokyo. The research team says a sharp, clear image will be produced by a luminous cube and projected onto the wall of Fraunhofer exhibition stand. Microscopically small nanostructured arrays of lenses can both project and record images.

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft says the technology has the potential to create small, easy to use projectors that work effectively in bright light conditions.

The Institute will demonstrate a prototype model that consists of an optical system that is 11mm² and 3mm thick through which an LED lamp shines.

“The special thing about the new projection technology is that the image is already integrated in the microoptics,” explained Marcel Sieler, physicist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Germany. “The pixels measuring just a hundred nanometers or so are stored in a chromium layer under the lens array. Such a microarray has around 250 microlenses and under each lens there is a microimage. When all of them are projected onto the wall together, a high-quality complete image is produced from an extremely small projector.”

“Commercial prospects for ultra-flat microoptical systems are excellent because they open up numerous new applications – like minicameras or miniprojectors,” said Dr Michael Popall from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC. “The leap in manufacturing quality achieved in recent months can be compared to the advance in television from the cathode ray tube to HDTV.”

IOF scientists have also developed a projector that is about the size of a box of matches.

Nano tech runs from February 16 to 18 in Tokyo, Japan.