Printer Friendly

Muscling up colors for electronic displays.

Colorful as they are, today's television and computer screens generate only about half the hues of the visible-light spectrum. Now, experimenters in Switzerland have found a way to provide the complete color palette. To do so, they use a material called artificial muscle because it changes length in response to electricity (SN: 7/1/06, p. 8).

In conventional displays, three light emitters--one red, one green, and one blue--make up each pixel. Varying their relative intensities yields composite colors such as orange. The three fixed hues can't combine to yield every color.

However, three light sources of variable hues could, says electrical engineer Manuel Aschwanden. To make such adjustable color sources, he and Andreas Stemmer, both of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, have invented a novel diffraction grating--a rippled surface that separates white light into component colors, each of which travels away from the grating at a slightly different angle.

Increasing the spacing between a grating's ripples shrinks the angular spread of colors, and decreasing the spacing increases the spread. This can control which color heads in a given direction, says Aschwanden. To achieve such control, the researchers first fashioned a simple grating out of stretchy plastic. Then, they adhered that grating to abase of rubbery acrylic polymer that acts as an artificial muscle.

Applying a voltage to the acrylic polymer caused it to stretch, increasing the ripple-to-ripple distance of the attached grating, the team reports in the Sept. 1 Optics Letters. At a fixed angle from the grating, a camera recorded a wide range of colors corresponding to various voltages. Aschwanden says that to make television and computer screens using such devices, a manufacturer might place pinholes in front of multiple gratings. Each pinhole would restrict the light coming through to just one color, which would change as its grating stretched or shrank.--P.W.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:using artificial muscles
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Sep 30, 2006
Words:309
Previous Article:Good gone wild: sometimes, ecotourism hurts what it sets out to help.
Next Article:Insecticide gets help from gut bacteria.
Topics:


Related Articles
Giving hearts extra muscle; sometimes wounded hearts need a little support. Other muscles are being conscripted to help.
Simulated fish swim through virtual seas.
ScienceWorld[R]: body shop.
The new muscle for cars.
Pumping alloy: a new way to power artificial muscles may lead to lifelike machines.
Within reach: new technology helps people move artificial limbs.
A new touch.
Transferred touch: sensory rewiring to improve prosthetics.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |