Nav: Home

VR and AR devices at 1/100 the cost and 1/10,000 the thickness in the works

May 19, 2020

Zombies or enemies flashing right before your eyes and the dizzying feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff using virtual reality and augmented reality (AR and VR) are no longer exclusive to the games or media industries. Those technologies allow us to conduct virtual conferences, share presentations and videos, and communicate in real time in the virtual space. But because of the high cost and bulkiness of VR and AR devices, the virtual world is not within easy reach.

Recently, a South Korean research team developed moldable nanomaterials and a printing technology using metamaterials, allowing the commercialization of inexpensive and thin VR and AR devices.

Professor Junsuk Rho of the departments of mechanical engineering and chemical engineering and doctoral student in mechanical engineering Gwanho Yoon at POSTECH with Professor Heon Lee and researcher Kwan Kim of department of material science at Korea University have jointly developed a new nanomaterial and large-scale nanoprinting technology for commercialization of metamaterials. The research findings, which solve the issue of device size and high production costs that were problematic in previous researches, were recently published in Nature Communications, a prestigious scientific journal.

Metamaterials are substances made from artificial atoms that do not exist in nature but they freely control the properties of light. An invisible cloak that makes an illusion of disappearance by adjusting the refraction or diffraction of light, or metaholograms that can produce different hologram images depending on the direction of light's entrance, uses this metamaterial.

Using this principle, the ultrathin metalens technology, which can replace the conventional optical system with extremely thinness, was recently selected as one of the top 10 emerging technologies to change the world in 2019 at the World Economic Forum.

In order to make metamaterials, artificial atoms smaller than the wavelengths of light must be meticulously constructed and arranged. Until now, metamaterials have been produced through a method called electron beam lithography (EBL)*.

However, EBL has hindered the commercialization or production of sizable metamaterials due to its slow process speed and high cost of production.

To overcome these limitations, the joint research team developed a new nanomaterial based on nanoparticle composite that can be molded freely while having optical characteristics suitable for fabricating metamaterials. The team also succeeded in developing a one-step printing technique that can shape the materials in a single-step process.

The team succeeded in producing an ultrathin metalens that is 100 times thinner than the strand of a human hair by using this newly developed technology. Metamaterials can be made into one-thousandth of thickness of heavy glass or plastic lenses. This is the first time in the world such ultrathin metalens was produced in a single-step printing process.

If the cost of making a metalens at the performance of conventional glass lenses were one million won (USD 8,200) per unit, this technology enables the production at about 10,000 won (USD 8), which is 1/100 the cost and 1/10,000 the thickness in a simplified process.

Professor Rho, who led the research, stated, "This one-step printing technology of nanomaterials allows the fabrication of metamaterials over 100 times faster than the conventional electron beam lithography." He added, "These lenses can not only make the existing thick, large VR and AR lenses or glasses dramatically lighter and smaller, but can also be applied to curved or flexible panels, which facilitates the use of metamaterials in large omnidirectional invisible cloaks or in curved or bendable wearable devices at a fraction of the cost."
-end-
The research was financially supported by the grants from the Mid-career Researcher Program, the Global Frontier Project (Wave Energy Control Research Group), the Regional Leading Research Center (RLRC), the Future Materials Discovery, and the Engineering Research Center (ERC) of the National Research Foundation (NRF) of the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) of Korea.

Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH)

Related Nanomaterials Articles:

Nanomaterials based strategies for treatment of hypoxic tumor
Hypoxic tumor microenvironment restricts efficiency of tumor therapies and leads to serious results of tumor recurrence and high mortality.
Trapping and controlling light at the interface of atomically thin nanomaterials
In a recent study, scientists at Cornell University propose a novel method by which nanoscale light can be manipulated and transported.
New way to check the quality of nanomaterials like graphene
A new way to check the quality of nanomaterials like graphene has emerged from a team at the University of Sussex.
Nanobiohybrids: A synergistic integration of bacteria and nanomaterials in cancer therapy
Nanobiohybrids: A Synergistic Integration of Bacteria and Nanomaterials in Cancer Therapy- BIO Integration.
Electronics for high-altitude use can get smaller and sturdier with new nanomaterials
Demand is growing for new materials that can be printed at ever smaller dimensions.
Water-free way to make MXenes could mean new uses for the promising nanomaterials
Ten years after producing the first sample of the now widely studied family of nanomaterials, called MXenes, Drexel University researchers have discovered a different way to make the atom-thin material that presents a number of new opportunities for using it.
Magnetic nanomaterials become an effective treatment against liver fibrosis
Fibrosis may affect different body organs. It develops as a reaction to long-time inflammation and is supposed to isolate the inflammation site from surrounding tissues.
More efficient risk assessment for nanomaterials
Nanotechnology is booming, but risk assessment for these tiny particles is a laborious process that presents significant challenges to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
New technology gives insight into how nanomaterials form and grow
A new form of electron microscopy allows researchers to examine nanoscale tubular materials while they are 'alive' and forming liquids -- a first in the field.
Nanomaterials give plants 'super' abilities (video)
Science-fiction writers have long envisioned human-machine hybrids that wield extraordinary powers.
More Nanomaterials News and Nanomaterials Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: IRL Online
Original broadcast date: March 20, 2020. Our online lives are now entirely interwoven with our real lives. But the laws that govern real life don't apply online. This hour, TED speakers explore rules to navigate this vast virtual space.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Falling
There are so many ways to fall–in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls.  We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite songs about falling. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.