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Curved LCD display key to pixelated contact lens

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:curved LCD display? fully-pixelated contact lens?

Imec and Ghent University's Centre of Microsystems Technology (CMST) unveiled a prototype of a spherical curved LCD display that can be embedded to produce fully pixelated contact lenses

Unlike LED-based contact lens displays, which are limited to a few small pixels, Imec's LCD-based technology permits the use of the entire display surface. By adapting the patterning process of the conductive layer, this technology enables applications with a broad range of pixel number and sizes, such as a one pixel, fully covered contact lens acting as adaptable sunglasses, or a highly pixelated contact lens display.

"Normally, flexible displays using liquid crystal cells are not designed to be formed into a new shape, especially not a spherical one. Thus, the main challenge was to create a very thin, spherically curved substrate with active layers that could withstand the extreme molding processes," said chief researcher Jelle De Smet. "Moreover, since we had to use very thin polymer films, their influence on the smoothness of the display had to be studied in detail. By using new kinds of conductive polymers and integrating them into a smooth spherical cell, we were able to fabricate a new LCD-based contact lens display."

The first prototype contains a patterned dollar sign and can only display rudimentary patterns, similar to an electronic pocket calculator. In the future, the researchers envision fully autonomous electronic contact lenses embedded with this display.

Spherical curved LCD display

Working prototype. Spherical curved LCD display has potential for medical and cosmetic applications.

These next-generation solutions could be used for medical purposes, such as controlling light transmission towards the retina in case of a damaged iris, or for cosmetic purposes such as an iris with a tunable colour. In the future, the display could also function as a head-up display, superimposing an image onto the user's normal view. However, there are still hurdles to overcome for broader consumer and civilian implementation.

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