Jun 30, 2023

Displays controlled by flexible fins and liquid droplets more versatile, efficient than LED screens

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Flexible displays that can change color, convey information and even send veiled messages via infrared radiation are now possible, thanks to new research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Engineers inspired by the morphing skins of animals like chameleons and octopuses have developed capillary-controlled robotic flapping fins to create switchable optical and infrared light multipixel displays that are 1,000 times more energy efficient than light-emitting devices.

The new study led by mechanical science and engineering professor Sameh Tawfick demonstrates how bendable fins and fluids can simultaneously switch between straight or bent and hot and cold by controlling the volume and temperature of tiny fluid-filled pixels. Varying the volume of fluids within the pixels can change the directions in which the flaps flip—similar to old-fashioned flip clocks—and varying the temperature allows the pixels to communicate via infrared energy. The study findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

Tawfick’s interest in the interaction of elastic and capillary forces—or elasto-capillarity—started as a graduate student, spanned the basic science of hair wetting and led to his research in soft robotic displays at Illinois.

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