Video: Turning Your Windows Into Movie Screens

Thomas is a news intern at Science.

The latest Hollywood blockbuster may be coming soon to a window near you. Researchers have developed a see-through video screen embedded with silver nanoparticles that's both scalable and relatively inexpensive. While traditional projection screens come in pearly white in order to evenly reflect the whole spectrum of visible light, the new display reflects only a single, specific shade of blue. To accomplish this, the researchers took uniform bunches of silver molecules, called silver nanoparticles, with diameters of 62 nanometers. (One billion could fit on a pinhead.) These nanoparticles interact only with bits of light with a precise blue wavelength, allowing other light to pass through unimpeded. The researchers completed their display by mixing the silver nanoparticles into a water-soluble transparent polymer and hardening it in a frame. Total cost of materials? Only $10. Using a laser projector tuned to the proper wavelength light, the researchers displayed a video of floating circles on their display while the screen remained otherwise transparent, they report online today in Nature Communications. While the current display works only with a single color, the team says mixing different sized nanoparticles would allow them to simultaneously display red, green, and blue light. By combining these three additive primary colors together, they could display the entire visual spectrum. The researchers predict their technology could one day be used to project speedometers on car windshields, present moving advertisements on store windows, and even turn skyscrapers into giant movie screens.

Posted in Chemistry, Physics, Technology