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Fascinating Facts About DLP

Fascinating facts about DLP.

  • Texas Instruments began working with Micro-ElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) in 1977 through a Defense Department contract to make a spatial light modulator using deformable mirrors for optical computing.
  • Originally, Texas Instruments tried to make analog micromirrors. However, by 1986, it became apparent that getting enough uniformity and optical efficiency to do simple, xerographic printing with a linear array of 2,400 analog micromirrors would not be possible.
  • In 1981, MEMS fabrication meant bulk micromachining of single-crystal silicon, which was expensive. But universities were experimenting with the surface micro-machining of polysilicon. Today, Texas Instruments finishes the transistors and metallization layers for interconnecting the transistors, and then uses a low-temperature process to put MEMS on top of a CMOS chip.
  • Solid-state physicist and Texas Instruments colleague Larry Hornbeck invented the digital micromirror device (DMD) in 1987.
  • A DMD looks like a computer microchip but with a mirror in the middle of it. This mirror is made up of 1 million to 2 million tiny mirrors that can individually pivot a few degrees.
  • Each of the aluminum mirrors are 16 microns square and weigh only a few millionths of a gram. Each individual mirror is attached to a yoke and a hinge that moves the mirrors to the on and off positions.
  • Each mirror corresponds to one pixel of the finished picture. If you could get a close-up look at a DMD while it was working, you would see it resembles a photo mosaic.
  • The first Texas Instruments' DMD product was the DMD2000 airline ticket printer, released in 1990. Instead of using a conventional polygon scanner, Texas Instruments used a linear DMD — an 840 x 1 array of micromirrors.
  • In 1989, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Texas Instruments a contract to develop a prototype HD DMD chip.
  • Also in 1989, Rank-Brimar, a U.K. subsidiary of the Rank Corp., invested money to help develop a prototype three-chip DMD projector, as to project HDTV in very large formats for theaters and auditoriums
  • In 1991, Texas Instruments started the Digital Imaging Venture Project to develop HDTV. By 1996, its first DLP products were on the market.
  • In 1997, the first high-brightness, three-chip DLP system for large-venue applications was introduced. DMD can take the heat loads from very bright projection lamps.
  • Today, Texas Instruments is equipping digital cinemas with 3-D versions of its DLP cinema projection technology. The company is also working on a prototype of a tiny DLP chip that is cheap enough to add a projector to a handheld device.

Source: Johnson, R. Colin (2007). DLP pioneer tells how Texas Instruments TI did it with mirrors. EE Times. Wilson, Tracy V. (Nov. 29, 2006) How DLP Sets Work.

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