MIT Advances HUD Technology

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A new system to project images through glass using nanotechnology could lead to inexpensive, effective head-up displays for aircraft, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said this week. The new approach combines a wide viewing angle, simplicity of manufacture, potentially low cost, and scalability. The system uses nanoparticles embedded in a thin transparent plastic coating that can be applied to glass, much as tinting is applied to car windows. The particles are designed to scatter light at precise wavelengths, so the projected image is seen in much the same way that smoke in the air can reveal the presence of a laser beam passing through it. The image can be seen from a wide array of angles, unlike some current systems, which are limited in their angle of view.

Even with the nanoparticle film installed, "the glass will look almost perfectly transparent," said MIT professor Marin Soljacic. The research team recently demonstrated a prototype of the technology, using just one color. Soljacic said the demonstration was just a proof-of-concept, and much work remains to be done to optimize the performance of the system. The team's research was supported by the Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation.

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