Qualcomm has developed a new energy-efficient display technology based on lightwave interference. Their technology, an interferometric modulator (IMOD) display, works by setting up interference patterns in light. If light reflects off two surfaces that are within one light wavelength apart, a destructive interference pattern sets up that cancels out that wavelength of light.
Wavelength interference is the phenomena that gives a butterfly its color. It's also the thing that makes an oil slick on water look like a rainbow. Qualcomm picked up on the butterfly image and calls its invention the "butterfly effect." I guess the "oil slick" effect wouldn't have passed their marketing department.
IMOD has the potential to be easily readable in daylight without using power-hungry back lighting. Some of the current crop of IMOD displays use so little power that they are designed to be left on all the time. The response time for IMOD is 10 – 1000 times faster than LCDs making IMOD ideal for gaming and animation applications.
Designs and technologies based on nature, like Qualcomm's IMOD displays, are called "biomimetic", a growing branch of industrial design.
The November 2007 Scientific American has a great article on this; unfortunately, the full article isn't available online without a subscription.
written by Neece, November 02, 2007
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