23.08.19

UK researchers create world’s smallest pixels

Pixel
Photo credit: NanoPhotonics Cambridge/Hyeon-Ho Jeong, Jialong Peng

Researchers from Cambridge University, UK, have created the smallest pixels to date, creating gold-infused pixels a million times smaller than smartphone pixels.

Cambridge University said in a statement that the pixels could be used for “new types of large-scale flexible displays, big enough to cover entire buildings. “ 

The colour pixels were developed by a team of scientists led by the University of Cambridge, being compatible with roll-to-roll fabrication on flexible plastic films. 

A tiny particle of gold, reportedly a “few billionths of a metre across” is located at the centre of the pixels, sitting on top o f a reflective surface to trap light in the gap in between, with a thin sticky coating changing chemically when electrically switched, allowing the pixel to change colour across the colour spectrum. 

The pixels were created by coating vats of golden grains with an active polymer, polyaniline, being sprayed onto a flexible mirror-coated plastic. 
The pixels can be seen in bright sunlight because the pixels do not require constant power to keep a set colour. 
Research leader, Jeremy J Baumberg, NanoPhotonics Centre at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory said: “These are not the normal tools of nanotechnology, but this sort of radical approach is needed to make sustainable technologies feasible.

“The strange physics of light on the nanoscale allows it to be switched, even if less than a tenth of the film is coated with our active pixels. That’s because the apparent size of each pixel for light is many times larger than their physical area when using these resonant gold architectures.”
Cambridge University theorises that the pixels could be used for building-sized display screens, architecture which can switch off solar head loads as well as active camouflage clothing.