Hitachi aims MEMS display at tablets, smartphones

At Ceatec, Hitachi Displays unveils a prototype display, developed with a U.S. company, that uses microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, technology.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Hitachi Displays announced a display that uses microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, technology at the Ceatec conference this week in Chiba, Japan.

Pixtronix's MEMS technology uses microelectromechanical 'shutters' and delivers lower power consumption
Pixtronix's MEMS technology uses microelectromechanical 'shutters' and delivers lower power consumption Pixtronix

Hitachi is targeting the display, developed with Andover, Mass.-based Pixtronix, at future smartphones, tablet PCs, and digital cameras, among other devices. The target size is a screen with a 10-inch diagonal size or smaller.

At Ceatec, Hitachi is showing a 2.5-inch (320 by 240 resolution) prototype display that taps into Pixtronix's Digital Micro Shutter system, which combines thin-film transistor (TFT) technology and MEMS technologies. This results in a display that delivers better backlight efficiency and uses less power compared to LCDs, according to Pixtronix. Hitachi Displays, which will manufacture the display, says power consumption is about half of conventional LCDs. The display also boasts a wider color gamut than LCDs.

The Digital Micro Shutter technology eliminates higher-cost materials and components, including liquid crystals, color filters, and polarizers, Pixtronix says.

Pixtronix describes the technology (PDF) as follows, emphasizing that the display can exploit the existing TFT manufacturing infrastructure, used for making TFT LCDs. "The display module consists of two joined components: a MEMS module and a backlight. The MEMS module comprises an active backplane with MEMS shutters built over it and a cover glass. The backplane and MEMS are fabricated using standard TFT processing with a simple digital circuit. Cell assembly and module integration are also accomplished using standard LCD processing tools. This allows production of these displays using the large installed base of LCD processing tools and manufacturing infrastructure."

The display can also be used without the backlight in reflective mode when reading newspapers and magazines, much like electronic-ink displays, thereby using very little power, like electronic displays, Hitachi said.

Hitachi is slated to ship the display by early 2012, according to Nikkei Electronics.