Scientists Develop Soap Bubble Screen And The 'World’s Thinnest Display'

An international research team of scientists have created what they say is the world’s thinnest transparent display, a screen made of soap film, that allows images to be projected onto its surface to create either flat or 3D pictures.

Whereas traditional displays are opaque, the soap film screen in fact varies in both transparency and reflectance. By hitting the display with ultrasonic sound waves delivered through speakers, the team were able to manipulate aspects of the film's properties to allow an image to be created. In changing the frequency of the waves, the team was able to further modify the reflective property of the screen.

The soap bubble itself is much harder to 'pop' than your average Fairy creation - the team instead used a special colloid mixture to create a more durable bubble, even allowing objects to pass through its skin without bursting. Yoichi Ochiai of the University of Tokyo describes; “Our membrane screen can be controlled using ultrasonic vibrations. The combination of the ultrasonic waves and ultra thin membranes makes more realistic, distinctive, and vivid imageries on screen.”

As Ochiai elaborates, the research will likely prove instrumental in developing ever-thinner and more flexible displays. “This system contributes to open up a new path for display engineering with sharp imageries, transparency, BRDF [bidirectional reflectance distribution function, a four-dimensional function that defines how light is reflected at an opaque surface] and flexibility.”

Richard Birkett