PORTLAND, Ore. Green semiconductor lasers, a key component for pico projectors, will enter mass production by midyear, according to Corning Inc., which announced a deal with Microvision Inc. to supply the green lasers for Microvision's PicoP Display Engine.
Pico projectors use red, blue and green lasers to project large, bright images from displays on handheld devices, but have been held back by green laser manufacturers who have been unable to deliver production volumes.
Microvision spokesman Matt Nichols said it will begin shipping its pico projecter by midyear using Corning's G-1000 green lasers. "The green laser was the last component we needed to begin shipping," he said.
Microvision (Redmond, Wash.) has been waiting over two years for a supply of green lasers. Corning (Corning, N.Y.), Osram Opto Semiconductors and others have taken longer than expected to develop the lasers. Corning rolled out prototypes of its G-1000 green laser at last year's Society for Information Display conference, but said it would not begin volume shipments of the device until later this year.
Using lasers in emerging pico projector market enables bright, low-power displays to be packed into very small packages. Microvision's PicoP product, for instance, measures 7- by 20- by 40-mm, small enough to fit inside a smartphone, yet can project displays as large as 100 inches wide.
Corning said it is manufacturing green lasers by internally doubling the frequency of an infrared laser.
Microvision claims it has a backlog of orders for a device using their display called its Show WX, which has the same dimensions as an iPhone. "We will begin shipping our Show WX pico projectors to end users by midyear, but we are also hoping to be able to announced OEM agreements for the PicoP Display Engine this year too," said Nichols.
Now that Corning is delivering a green laser, Microvision said it hopes to qualify its parts and begin volume production of the Show WX projector and the PicoP display for OEMs in the second half of 2009.
Many competing approaches using micro LCD and liquid-crystal-on-silicon and digital light processor technologies are being developed by 3M, Texas Instruments, Samsumg and others. Only Microvision and National Semiconductor have announced development of laser-based projectors.
Proponents say lasers-based displays are able to focus at any distance without the need for optical lenses.