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Swiss Invent a Muscular Display

Artificial muscles that manipulate diffraction gratings may bring truer color and a sharper image

4 min read

As big as a picture window, yet thin enough to hang on the wall, today’s high-end display would be perfect if only it offered more detail and true color. Now researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich propose to solve both these problems with moveable gratings that break white light into a rainbow and bend the right part of it to a spot on the screen. In a paper published in the 1 September edition of the journal Optics Letters, Manuel Aschwanden, a graduate student at the institute, and his advisor, nanotechnology professor Andreas Stemmer, predict that the technology will allow screens to reproduce every color visible to the human eye and offer print-quality resolution.

Optical gratings are regular arrays of fine lines that deflect light with a combination of diffraction and wave interference. Because each wavelength reacts differently, white light will separate into rays of its constituent hues, with each ray pointing a different angle. The problem lies in manipulating hundreds of thousands of gratings so that each one sends the right color to its pixel.

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How Nanotech Can Foil Counterfeiters

These tiny mechanical ID tags are unclonable, cheap, and invisible

10 min read
Close up of a finger with a clear square on it.
University of Florida

What's the largest criminal enterprise in the world? Narcotics? Gambling? Human trafficking?

Nope. The biggest racket is the production and trade of counterfeit goods, which is expected to exceed US $1 trillion next year. You've probably suffered from it more than once yourself, purchasing on Amazon or eBay what you thought was a brand-name item only to discover that it was an inferior-quality counterfeit.

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