Less than a micrometre thin, bendable and giving all the colours that a regular LED display does, it still needs ten times less energy than a Kindle tablet. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed the basis for a new electronic “paper”. Their results were recently published in the high impact journal Advanced Materials.
When Chalmers researcher Andreas Dahlin and his PhD student Kunli Xiong were working on placing conductive polymers on nanostructures, they discovered that the combination would be perfectly suited to creating electronic displays as thin as paper. A year later the results were ready for publication. A material that is less than a micrometre thin, flexible and giving all the colours that a standard LED display does.
“The ’paper’ is similar to the Kindle tablet”, says Andreas Dahlin. “It isn’t lit up like a standard display, but rather reflects the external light which illuminates it. Therefore it works very well where there is bright light, such as out in the sun, in contrast to standard LED displays that work best in darkness. At the same time it needs only a tenth of the energy that a Kindle tablet uses, which itself uses much less energy than a tablet LED display”.
It all depends on the polymers’ ability to control how light is absorbed and reflected. The polymers that cover the whole surface lead the electric signals throughout the full display and create images in high resolution. The material is not yet ready for application, but the basis is there. The team has tested and built a few pixels. These use the same red, green and blue (RGB) colours that together can create all the colours in standard LED displays. The results so far have been positive, what remains now is to build pixels that cover an area as large as a display.
“We are working at a fundamental level but even so, the step to manufacturing a product out of it shouldn’t be too far away. What we need now are engineers”.
One obstacle today is that there is gold and silver in the display, which makes the manufacturing expensive.
“The gold surface is 20 nanometres thick so there is not that much gold in it”, says Andreas Dahlin. “But at present there is a lot of gold wasted in manufacturing it. Either we reduce the waste or we find another way to decrease the manufacturing cost”.
Andreas Dahlin thinks the best application for the displays will be well-lit places such as outside or in public places to display information. This could reduce the energy consumption and at the same time replace signs and information screens that aren’t currently electronic today with more flexible ones.
A European research project led by Chalmers University of Technology has launched a set of tools that will make computer systems more energy efficient – a critical issue for modern computing. Using the framework of the project programmers has been able to provide large data streaming aggregations 54 times more energy efficient than with standard implementations.
Energy consumption is one of the key challenges of modern computing, whether for wireless embedded client devices or high performance computing centers. The ability to develop energy efficient software is crucial, as the use of data and data processing keeps increasing in all areas of society. The need for power efficient computing is not only due to the environmental impact. Rather, we need energy efficient computing in order to even deliver on the trends predicted.
The EU funded Excess project, which finishes August 31, set out three years ago to take on what the researchers perceived as a lack of holistic, integrated approaches to cover all system layers from hardware to user level software, and the limitations this caused to the exploitation of the existing solutions and their energy efficiency. They initially analyzed where energy-performance is wasted, and based on that knowledge they have developed a framework that should allow for rapid development of energy efficient software production.
“When we started this research program there was a clear lack of tools and mathematical models to help the software engineers to program in an energy efficient way, and also to reason abstractly about the power and energy behavior of her software” says Philippas Tsigas, professor in Computer Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, and project leader of Excess. “The holistic approach of the project involves both hardware and software components together, enabling the programmer to make power-aware architectural decisions early. This allows for larger energy savings than previous approaches, where software power optimization was often applied as a secondary step, after the initial application was written.”
The Excess project has taken major steps towards providing a set of tools and models to software developers and system designers to allow them to program in an energy efficient way. The tool box spans from fundamentally new energy-saving hardware components, such as the Movidius Myriad platform, to sophisticated efficient libraries and algorithms.
Tests run on large data streaming aggregations, a common operation used in real-time data analytics, has shown impressive results. When using the Excess framework, the programmer can provide a 54 times more energy efficient solution compared to a standard implementation on a high-end PC processor. The holistic Excess approach first presents the hardware benefits, using an embedded processor, and then continues to show the best way to split the computations inside the processor, to even further enhance the performance.
Movidius, a partner in the Excess project and developers of the Myriad (http://www.movidius.com/solutions/vision-processing-unit) platform of vision processors, has integrated both technology and methodology developed in the project into their standard development kit hardware and software offering. In the embedded processor business, there has been a gradual migration of HPC class features getting deployed on embedded platforms. The rapid development in autonomous vehicles such as cars and drones, driving assist systems, and also the general development of home assist robotics (e.g. vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers) has led to the porting of various computer vision algorithms to embedded platforms. Traditionally these algorithms were developed on high performance desktop computers and HPC systems, making them difficult to re-deploy to embedded systems. Another problem was that the algorithms were not developed with energy efficiency in mind. But the Excess project has enabled and directed the development of tools and software development methods to aid the porting of HPC applications to the embedded environment in an energy efficient way.
Chalmers University of Technology (Swedish: Chalmers tekniska högskola, often shortened to Chalmers), is a Swedish university located in Gothenburg that focuses on research and education in technology, natural science, and architecture.
Chalmers has partnerships with major industries mostly in the Gothenburg region such as Ericsson, Volvo, and SKF. The University has general exchange agreements with many European and U.S. universities and maintains a special exchange program agreement with National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) in Taiwan where the exchange students from the two universities maintains offices for, among other things, helping local students with applying and preparing for an exchange year as well as acting as representatives (NCTU Europe – NCTU students at Chalmers, Chalmers Asia – Chalmers students at NCTU). It contributes also to the Top Industrial Managers for Europe (TIME) network.
A close collaboration between the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Chalmers and ICVR at ETH Zurich is being established.
The Latest Updated Research News:
Chalmers University of Technology research articles from Innovation Toronto
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- Mind-controlled prosthetic arms that work in daily life are now a reality – October 9, 2014
- New web privacy system could revolutionise the safety of surfing – October 8, 2014
- Artificial intelligence that imitates children’s learning – September 24, 2014
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The ROAR project is aimed at showing how machines can communicate with each other and how, in the future, they will be able to carry out tasks now undertaken by humans
The system uses drones to locate refuse bins and robots to collect and empty them. The aim is to show how machines can communicate with each other and how, in the future, they will be able “to facilitate everyday life in a large number of areas.”