New Patents granted for Pixtronix – MEMS based light modulation

Two US patents were granted today to Pixtronix for their Digital MEMS shutters designed to replace liquid crystals to deliver low power, high speed light modulation for an innovative display technology.  US7742215 and US7742016 describe the technology used to provide the methods and apparatus for forming images on a projection display utilizing a control matrix to control the movement of MEMs-based light modulators.

This technology was first demonstrated as an alternative to the liquid crystal display, Pixtronix’s display uses a backlight, but unlike most LCDs it also reflects ambient light, allowing for an easier-to-read monochrome e-reader mode. The pixels in the display are made of tiny silicon shutters: micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) that open and close to emit red, blue, and green light in rapid sequence, creating the illusion of a range of colors.  These patents extend protection for the technology into the projector market.

Further details of the technology can be found on their website and a white paper is available for download.

For those of you that like to see the first claim here it is:

1. A projection display comprising: a transparent substrate; a plurality of shutter-based MEMS light modulators disposed on a surface of the transparent substrate, wherein the shutter-based light modulators each include an actuator for driving a shutter, wherein the actuators include first and second compliant beams, which, in response to application of a voltage across the first and second compliant beams, deform towards one another; and projection optics for projecting light modulated by the shutter-based MEMS light modulators onto a display surface to form an image.


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