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MIT Engineers Develop Vertical microLEDs for XR Devices


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers announced this week it had designed an interface for full-colour microscopic light-emitting diodes (microLEDs). The innovation will provide high-definition visuals with LED technologies to boost visual fidelity on immersive devices.

Such innovations will allow virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) devices to reach even sharper pixel densities. Researchers achieved this by stacking diodes for multicoloured, versatile pixels.

In its blog post, MIT engineers found that stacking pixels can increase the spectrum of colours with four-micron-wide, microscopic pixels. The new technology can pack roughly 5,000 pixels per inch.

MIT stated that current organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) degrade after repeated use, leading to screen burn patterns. Innovations such as micro-LED panels could resolve such issues, adding that new micro-LEDs could “perform better, require less energy, and last longer than OLEDs.”

Jeehwan Kim, MIT Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, said,

“This is the smallest micro-LED pixel, and the highest pixel density reported in the journals. We show that vertical pixelation is the way to go for higher-resolution displays in a smaller footprint.”

Postdoctoral Researcher Jiho Shin added that VR had limitations to “how real they can look.”

“With our vertical micro-LEDs, you could have a completely immersive experience and wouldn’t be able to distinguish virtual from reality”

Shin continued, explaining how the verticalised pixels would function, concluding,

“Because we are stacking all three pixels vertically, in theory we could reduce the pixel area by a third […] If you have a higher current to red, and weaker to blue, the pixel would appear pink, and so on. We’re able to create all the mixed colors, and our display can cover close to the commercial color space that’s available”

Research teams include staff from MIT, Georgia Tech Europe, and Sejong University, among others. The US National Science Foundation, US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), US Department of Energy, US Air Force Research Laboratory, LG Electronics, the French National Research Agency, National Research Foundation in Korea, and Rohm Semiconductor supported the initiative.

South Korea as a Key Hub for the Metaverse

The developments come as South Korea aims to position itself as a key metaverse hub for global operations. The country has begun placing its workforce, researchers, and tech firms at the centre of the metaverse tech race to develop future infrastructure for the platform.

South Korea’s Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) revealed novel photodiode technologies for streamlining AR holographic visuals. Leveraging cutting-edge digital cameras, the device displays 3D AR holograms without peripheral devices.

The holographic kit also displays RT3D content using 2D semiconductors, facilitating visuals on current digital and smartphone cameras.

South Korean startup LiBEST and robotics firm Mand.ro partnered to develop flexible battery technologies for future metaverse devices. Such innovations could facilitate the development of wireless robot arms and human augmentation suits.

Samsung has begun developing additional haptic devices for AR wearables featuring artificial muscle actuators. Partnering with Ajou University’s mechanical engineering teams, Samsung’s Professor Je-Sung Ko helped to develop the technology.



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