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Caltech researchers reveal smartphone projector chip

Tuesday, March 11th 2014 by Richard Murphy
Caltech researchers reveal smartphone projector chip

Researchers at Caltech have come up with a way that could see smartphones serve as pocket-sized projectors.

Bulky meeting room projectors could become a thing of the past, thanks to a new silicon chip developed by researchers at Caltech in California.

Addressing the Optical Fiber Communication conference in San Francisco yesterday (10 March 2014), Electrical Engineering Professor Ali Hajimiri showed off his lab's lens-free, pocket-sized projector, which Caltech says is small enough to feature in next-generation smartphones.

The technology uses a so-called integrated optical phased array, which comprises a single laser diode as a light source and features no mechanically moving parts such as the large and expensive lenses found in today's projectors.

Instead, the chip 'bends' light to create one amplified beam, the direction of which can be shifted by changing the relative timing of the waves using phase shifters.

By moving up, down, left and right in the blink of an eye, the beam "acts as a very fast pen", the researchers said, drawing an image made of light on the projection surface.

"In the future, this can be incorporated into a phone, and since there is no need for a lens, you can have a phone that acts as a projector all by itself," commented Professor Hajimiri.

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