Scientists have developed the “world’s thinnest transparent display”, which uses a screen made from soap film and ultrasound technology to add texture and 3D or flat capabilities to a display unit.
Research team Yoichi Ochiai (University of Tokyo), Keisuke Toyoshima (University of Tsukuba), and Alexis Oyama (Carnegie Mellon University) call the technology a colloidal display.
The surface of a soap bubble, as a micro membrane, allows light to pass through its form, and display a number of colours on the surface. Traditional screens are opaque, but the team has created an extremely thin and flexible BRDF display (technically known as bidirectional reflectance distribution function) using a mixture of two liquids which varies in transparency and reflection levels.
It may be a little more complicated than your usual stock at the store, but the main ingredient is still soap. However, the mixture the team created is far more robust than normal soap, and objects can even pass through the film without it popping.
In order to control the ‘membrane screen’, ultrasonic waves are used to alter the vibrations through the liquid, which in turn shifts the transparency, surface state and colours on the screen. The ultrasonic sound waves are played through speakers — and when these levels change, the texture of the screen can.
Smooth, rough or holographic, these kinds of capabilities could potentially raise the bar in screen features — making images more realistic and vivid. The team have said they imagine this kind of technology could be used in multiple ways, including making artist’s work more realistic in museums, or for use by entertainers including magicians.
The team’s first project is a 3D screen. For more information, view the video below:
Image credit: University of Tokyo