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Israeli startup unveils MEMS-based microdisplay system

Posted: 30 Jul 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mems? light modulation? lcd? fsa? microdisplay?

Targeting a niche market considered by many still in its infancy, Tel Aviv-based startup Flixel Ltd unveiled a unique light transmissive shutter array designed for a variety of light modulating, image capture, and image projection applications.

Figure 1

The Flixel Shutter Array (FSA) is a microelectromechanical (MEMS) micro-shutter array module comprised of a dense shutter matrix (Figure 1). The module features pixels that flip 180 or 90 on their own dedicated free moving hinges without exertion of any mechanical stress (torsion) on the hinges (Figure 2 and Figure 3). The company said it has driven the pixels to over 1 billion flips without degradation. CEO Jephtah Lorch commented, "The device is built using MEMS technology and is based on our patented core technology, which is our ability to generate out-of-plane movement, that is, we can generate a piece of silicon that flips on the wafer like a page on a book. We do that without using torsion."

Technological advantages

Figure 2

Lorch said the patented "Flipping Pixel" core technology offers several advantages. Compared to LCDs, FSA has a better contrast ratio and resolution will not degrade over time. In addition, FSA solves the issue of "etendue" in reflective devices. "Etendue is a physical phenomenon that limits the ability to use long-arc lamps, creating the need for short arc lamps. FSA is basically an array of microshutters that open and close, thus blocking or opening up the light path. Since FSA has a high light transmissivity, long arc lamps can be used," he explained.

Figure 3

With simple optics and low power lamps as its main requirements, the FSA has low power supply and cooling requirements. System costs are also much lower. Lorch added, "The technology is very generic and can be used in other applications, not necessarily in the microdisplay business. We concentrate on light modulating array because this has a lot of applications, not only in the projection business. It can be used as optical shutters in image capture systems, to dim or block bright spots. Typical applications include cameras, thermal imaging systems, and night vision systems."

Market focus

Due to technological as well as economic factors, Flixel currently has no plans of penetrating the burgeoning flat panel display market. "The technology has limitations in the sense that if you try to make very big panels, you need to invest in new fabrication facilities. For microdisplays, we are using existing facilities, which we believe is extremely important. We exerted efforts to develop the technology using existing and proven production technologies and facilities," said Lorch.

Flixel is closely working on custom projects for the meantime. Since Israel does not have enough fabs, the company is on the lookout for potential partners with mass production capabilities. "In the microdisplay market, makers are eyeing low-cost, reliable projectors that can be sold at a street price of $1000, and without the need for a $200 to $400 lamp replacement every 3,000 working hours. Our innovation can help lower production costs and penetrate that market," Lorch stated.

- Marcelino J. Alejo Jr.

Electronic Engineering Times - Asia

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