4 January 2022

The University leads collaboration on development of next generation micro-displays and visible light communication

Professor Tao Wang is leading a £1.9M project in collaboration with American Universities Harvard and MIT and UK Universities Strathclyde and Bath, to advance the technology for the next generation of micro-displays and visible light communication.

VLC system

The Centre for GaN Materials and Devices has already made important breakthroughs in the fabrication of ultra-small microLEDs and has developed a new integration concept for photonics and electronics which has important benefits for both microdisplay and visible light communication (VLC) technologies. One of twelve collaborations announced by UKRI the aim of this project (Monolithic on-chip integration of microscale laser diodes and electronics for micro-displays and visible light communications) is to develop a novel epitaxy integration technology using micro laser diodes (microLDs) in order to achieve the ultimate micro-display and VLC systems.

Micro-displays are currently used in smart watches, smart phones, augmented reality and virtual reality devices. VLC technology has the potential to offer much greater bandwidth and efficiency than WiFi or 5G and can be used where radio frequency emissions are controlled or do not work such as in aircraft, hospitals, underwater and hazardous environments. A key component of both these technologies are III-nitride visible light-emitting diodes (LEDs) but using laser diodes (LDs) instead has the potential to achieve devices with even higher resolution, speed and efficiency.

As Professor Tao Wang explains:

The significantly increasing demands on micro displays are pushing the requirements for ultra-high resolution and ultra-high efficiency. Several fundamental challenges with fabrication and electrical driving methods cannot be met by existing technologies therefore a disruptive technology needs to be developed. Unlike any existing photonics and electronics fabrication approaches, our research will explore a completely different approach to monolithically integrate microscale laser diodes (μLDs) and high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) on a single chip, where each μLD is electrically driven by individual HEMTs.

The global micro-display market has been predicted to reach $4.2 billion by 2025 and the VLC market is expected to exceed $8 billion by 2030. This project, which is funded by an EPSRC Centre to Centre Research Collaboration grant, is also supported by global companies such as Microsoft, Sony and Plessey.

For more information please visit www.ukri.org/news/international-collaborations-to-develop-technologies-of-tomorrow.