Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Other part of SpectraVue

As I mentioned in the original blog posting, there were actually two parts to the SpectraVue invention, The viewing film and the channel waveguide. Although the viewing film died a quick death after AlliedSignal folded the venture, the industry was mightily impressed with the channel waveguide and the design was widely adopted both in backlights for LCD as well as general lighting. The channel waveguide is something of the reverse of the viewing film, using a cons structure to columnate light rather than disperse it. The channel waveguide was rather problematic at the time as it did such a good job columnating light that you could see each individual channel element shining right through the display. The solution that was most obvious, giving the beams from each element some distance to integrate ran contrary to the trend of thinner displays. There was no appreciable LCD monitor business at the time; everything was notebooks. Finer structures and applications that could tolerate some thickness lead to a revival of the technique and AlliedSignal, after buying then changing its name to Honeywell, had a good time suing those that had adopted the idea.

Assuming the channel waveguide structure could be mad fine enough, there is an application for it on the front of some displays as well as in the backlight. If the optical pathway is run in reverse, you have a very efficient structure for capturing all off axis light and dumping it into the wavegude at sub TIR angles. This would give a display with extremely narrow viewing angle, virtually head on only, but the captured ambient light could be redirected to the LCDs own backlight or otherwise used to power the display.

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