Sharp & Pixtronix Talk Commercialization of MEMS Displays

Mobile Displays – Sharp and Pixtronix are developing a MEMS display that acts like a pocket door to let red, green and blue light pass through for a very efficient mobile display. At Display Week 2014, Insight Media visited the Sharp booth, which featured a seven-inch Pixtronix prototype display, a joint venture between Qualcomm/Pixtronix and Sharp.

Specs currently available on the display include 1280 x 800 resolution, 122% NTSC color gamut, power consumption at about one-half the equivalent of an LCD of that size and resolution, and the use of the IGZO and backplane, which gives users benefits in terms of low noise and the stability to drive the MEMS mirrors. Other specs include 60% transmissivity, 8,000:1 contrast, a very wide viewing angles, and sunlight readable.

The display works by using an RGB backlight section, an aperture glass, an active matrix backplane with IGZO, and a MEMS layer. The MEMS layer is not like DLP and is not a switching mirror. It slides sideways, and when the aperture is closed, it blocks the light from the backplane. When it opens, it allows the light to come through. The grayscale is modulated to the desired brightness, and it essentially becomes a field sequential color device. The field rate is greater than 2,000 hertz. However, Sharp was unclear if that was just a field rate or a combination of field and modulation.

From a high level perspective, this display could be a home run.

In the past year, they’ve also been working on improving the processes to manufacturer. They plan to provide samples for customers in Q4. Additionally, they’ve been working on the algorithms to improve performance and have been specifically working on improving the algorithms for color break-up, which historically has been a problem for DLP projectors or any color sequential device. The color break up is not noticeable when looking at vdeo or still images, but once you do the “DLP wave” (rapidly moving your hand side to side with fingers spread) you see the color break up (a color trail between your fingers).

They are also thinking about doing another product for the automotive market sometime in 2015, possibly a 3.5-inch device useful for a HUD product.