A scientific breakthrough in rare earth metal display technology could increase the resolution of smartphones by a factor of a million. Screen resolution is a major deal with consumers when purchasing smartphones and computers. An increase in resolution capacity will mean better gaming experience, better videos, pinpoint accurate selfies and 3D displays that change the way we interact with our devices.
Chinese scientists led the research by putting six rare earth elements into a nanocapsule and beaming powerful lasers onto it. Through the experiment, the scientists were able to uncover. for the first ever, the full spectrum of light.
The research was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie. It detailed that through the exploitation of the rare earth metals, displays could reach over 850 million Pixels Per Inch (PPI). Currently, the retina displays used on iPads, iPhones and Macbooks only use about 300 PPI, a huge contrast.
The groundbreaking new research has ushered in a new age of device displays.
However, according to Zhang Zhongping, a science professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and author of the study, it may take long before the breakthrough is materialized on smartphone displays worldwide.
Zhongping said, "Pixels are only one part of display technology. When pixels go down in size, it requires laser beams to become extremely fine as well. To generate and control laser beams at a nanoscale [level] is a problem that has not been solved."
Current display technologies including light-emitting diode technology (LED) and plasma technology produce different colors by mixing three primary colors: red, blue and yellow.
The rare earth elements are different in that they have round structures that contain six layers of elements such as Erbium and Thulium. Through varying the laser beam wavelengths, they are able to produce different colors.
The team has spent a remarkable three years on the project. After many attempts and failures, they finally came up with a formula that could be mass produced in chemical plants.
According to Zhongping, "The biggest challenge is to find the right rare earth elements and control their precise composition.
"A wrong element or slight disproportion will make it impossible to obtain pure white light, which is the benchmark from which to evaluate the performance of a display technology."
Though the technology will cause a seismic shift in how consumers view display capabilities on their devices, the added capabilities do come at additional costs, especially since they use rare earth metals.
However, with the technology rapidly evolving, it is safe to say that in the coming future, conventional LED displays will be a thing of the past.