Advanced Plasmonic Materials for Dynamic Color Display

Displays are probably the devices that people use for the longest time everyday in any modern industrial society. Typical examples in our daily life include time tables at transportation stations, digital signage, computer monitors, mobile phone displays, and e-readers able to display digital versions of books and magazines. Electronic visual displays based on reflective elements, named as “reflective displays”, are especially attractive, because they can mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper by providing wide viewing angles and sunlight readability. The reflective displays therefore are much more eye-friendly and energy-efficient than backlit and emissive display technologies like LEDs, LCDs, and plasma panels. Despite the mature technology for black and white 'slow' reflective display as the product Kindle e-reader illustrates, methods to provide reflective display in full color and with high refreshing rates have remained limited because of the difficulty in dynamically controlling the reflective colors.

Plasmonic nanomaterials can support optical resonances and have been used to generate colors since ancient times. Such materials are embedded in the Lycurgus cup in the British Museum and some stained-glass windows such as the rose window in Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. The plasmonic ‘pigments’ can be of high contrast, high resolution, and everlasting full colors. In addition, active control of the material appearance can be achieved by either adjusting the plasmonic nanomaterials themselves or hybriding with other functional materials. The distinguished properties in generating colors and active spectral control capability therefore make plasmonic materials promising candidates for dynamic color display.

We comprehensively highlighted the recent development of dynamic colorful display based on advanced plasmonic nanomaterials. After a brief overview of the plasmonic color generation, we discussed how the dynamic color display is realized in different plasmonic material systems and evaluated their performances. The advantages and disadvantages of existing techniques, methods for further performance improvement and cost reduction, and other unexplored strategies to realize plasmonic color display have been thoroughly discussed as well.

Our conclusion of the progress report is that the dynamic plasmonic display technologies show a great promise for the commercialization of novel low-powered full-color reflective visual displays.

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