Programmable diffraction grating

Posted August 14, 2005

Here is another installment of "wicked technology that I'd love to get my hands on to play with". The featured player today is Silicon Light Machines and its Grating Light Valve chip.

This is a MEMS device consisting of a linear array of thin reflective ribbons that can be electrostatically driven up or down, with a separation of just a few microns, and movements of just a single micron. The general idea is very similar to the micromirror display chips from TI, but in this case instead of operating by the reflection of any type of light, the GLV chip works as a diffraction grating for a particular wavelength of laser, either reflecting it back or at an angle depending on the state of the ribbons.

The applications they are using this tech for is in projection displays and high-end imaging systems for print, but for me I'd be interesting in seeing if more novel uses like holography were feasible. Diffraction and lasers can do a lot of fun things, after all, and with a programmable high-speed diffraction grating and a controllable solid-state laser...