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System and method of illuminating interferometric modulators using backlighting

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Title: System and method of illuminating interferometric modulators using backlighting.
Abstract: An interferometric modulator array device with backlighting is disclosed. The interferometric modulator array device includes a plurality of interferometric modulator elements. Each of the interferometric modulator elements includes an optical cavity. The interferometric modulator array includes an optical aperture region, and at least one reflecting element is positioned so as to receive light passing through the optical aperture region and reflect at least a portion of the received light to the cavities of the interferometric modulator elements. The interferometric modulator elements may be separated from each other such that an optical aperture region is formed between adjacent interferometric modulator elements. ...


Qualcomm Mems Technologies, Inc. - Browse recent Qualcomm patents - San Diego, CA, US
Inventors: Clarence Chui, Ming-Hau Tung
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120001962 - Class: 345690 (USPTO) - 01/05/12 - Class 345 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120001962, System and method of illuminating interferometric modulators using backlighting.

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CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/036,668, filed Feb. 25, 2008, entitled “SYSTEM AND METHOD OF ILLUMINATING INTERFEROMETRIC MODULATORS USING BACKLIGHTING,” which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/057,392, filed Feb. 11, 2005, entitled “SYSTEM AND METHOD OF ILLUMINATING INTERFEROMETRIC MODULATORS USING BACKLIGHTING,” which claims priority benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/613,536, filed Sep. 27, 2004, entitled “SYSTEM AND METHOD OF ILLUMINATING INTERFEROMETRIC MODULATORS USING BACKLIGHTING.” The present application incorporates the foregoing disclosures herein by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to a system and method of illuminating a display, and more particularly to a system and method of illuminating a display using backlighting and one or more reflecting elements.

2. Description of the Related Art

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) include micro mechanical elements, actuators, and electronics. Micromechanical elements may be created using deposition, etching, and/or other micromachining processes that etch away parts of substrates and/or deposited material layers or that add layers to form electrical and electromechanical devices. One type of MEMS device is called an interferometric modulator. An interferometric modulator may comprise a pair of conductive plates, one or both of which may be transparent and/or reflective in whole or part and capable of relative motion upon application of an appropriate electrical signal. One plate may comprise a stationary layer deposited on a substrate, the other plate may comprise a metallic membrane separated from the stationary layer by an air gap. Such devices have a wide range of applications, and it would be beneficial in the art to utilize and/or modify the characteristics of these types of devices so that their features can be exploited in improving existing products and creating new products that have not yet been developed.

For certain applications, interferometric modulator devices can be arranged in an array configuration to provide a display assembly having advantageous operational and performance characteristics. For example, these displays may have rich color characteristics as well as low power consumption.

Interferometric modulator devices in such displays operate by reflecting light and producing optical interference. Interferometric modulator arrays can operate by modulating ambient light reflected from the array. When ambient light is unavailable or insufficient, however, auxiliary lighting, such as provided by backlighting, is desirable. Thus, systems and methods for illuminating an interferometric modulator array are needed.

SUMMARY

The system, method, and devices of the invention each have several aspects, no single one of which is solely responsible for its desirable attributes. Without limiting the scope of this invention, its more prominent features will now be discussed briefly. After considering this discussion, and particularly after reading the section entitled “Detailed Description of Certain Embodiments” one will understand how the features of this invention provide advantages over other display devices.

One embodiment of a spatial light modulator comprises a light-modulating array comprising a plurality of light-modulating elements each having a cavity defined by first and second optical surfaces wherein the second optical surface is movable with respect to the first optical surface. The light-modulating array includes at least one optical aperture region. The light-modulating array device further comprises at least one reflecting element formed between a substrate and the plurality of light-modulating elements and configured to receive light passing through the optical aperture region and to reflect at least a portion of the received light to the cavity. Backlighting is thereby facilitated in certain embodiments.

The at least one reflecting element may comprise at least one of aluminum, silver, titanium, gold, and copper. In addition, the at least one reflecting element may have a sloped surface.

The reflecting element may have a substantially convex geometry, or a substantially concave geometry. Furthermore, the at least one reflecting element may comprise sections interconnected so as to form a continuous unitary structure extending proximal to a plurality of light-modulating elements.

The spatial light modulator may further comprise a mask aligned with the at least one reflecting element so as to at least partially obstruct a view of the at least one reflecting element. The mask may comprise at least a portion of an etalon, and the portion of the etalon may comprise one or more layers of partially reflective material and one or more spacing layers.

In some embodiments, the at least one reflecting element comprises at least a shaped feature and a reflecting material over the shaped feature.

The substrate of the light-modulating array may comprise at least one cavity, wherein the at least one reflecting element is formed in the cavity of the substrate. The at least one reflecting element may comprise a reflective material in substantially particulate form suspended in a substantially transparent material.

In some embodiments, the plurality of light-modulating elements include a metal layer, wherein the metal layer comprises a plurality of optically transmissive apertures. At least some of the light-modulating elements may be separated from each other so as to form an optical aperture region therebetween.

One embodiment of a method of manufacturing a spatial light modulator comprises forming at least one reflecting element on a substrate, and forming a plurality of light-modulating elements above the at least one reflecting element on the substrate so as to form a light-modulating array. Each of the light-modulating elements comprises first and second optical surfaces that define a cavity, wherein the second optical surface is movable with respect to the first optical surface. The light-modulating array has at least one optically transmissive aperture region. The at least one reflecting element is configured to receive light through the at least one aperture region and reflect at least a portion of the received light into the cavity.

Forming the at least one reflecting element may comprise depositing at least one of aluminum, silver, titanium, gold, and copper, and forming the at least one reflecting element may comprise depositing one or more materials to form a substantially sloped surface, a substantially convex geometry, or a substantially concave geometry. In some embodiments, forming the at least one reflecting element comprises forming a shaped base structure on the substrate, and depositing a reflecting material on the shaped base structure.

The method may further comprise forming a cavity in the substrate, and forming the at least one reflecting element substantially in the cavity of the substrate. Forming the at least one reflecting element may comprise depositing a layer of reflecting material on the substrate and surface treating the layer so as to increase the reflectivity and/or scattering of the reflecting material.

In some embodiments, the method further comprises forming a concealing feature on the substrate aligned with the at least one reflecting element so as to conceal the visible presence of the at least one reflecting element. The concealing feature may comprise a mask of at least one of an absorbing material, a reflective material, and a transmissive material. The concealing feature may comprise a mask layer of at least one of carbon black material, a dye, chromium, and molybdenum. In some embodiments, the concealing feature comprises a metal film so as to form an etalon comprising the metal film and the at least one reflecting element. The etalon may be configured to appear to a viewer as a predetermined color.

In one embodiment of the method, forming the at least one reflecting element comprises depositing a composite material on the substrate surface, wherein the composite material comprises reflective particles suspended in a substantially transparent material. The composite material may be deposited at discrete locations on the substrate surface so as to form a plurality of reflecting elements, or the composite material may be deposited on the substrate surface as a continuous layer, thereby forming a single reflecting element structure.

In some embodiments, the light-modulating element comprises an interferometric modulator element and the light-modulating array comprises an interferometric modulator array. In other embodiments, however, other types of light modulators including other types of MEMS structures may be employed.

One embodiment of a method of backlighting an interferometric modulator array comprises positioning a light source proximate a first side of the interferometric modulator array, and reflecting light from the light source to a second opposite side of the interferometric modulator array. In some embodiments, the light is reflected with one or more reflecting elements positioned between a substrate and a plurality of interferometric modulator elements formed on the substrate. In addition, the method may further comprise masking the one or more reflecting elements to hide the reflecting element from view, and masking may comprise forming at least a portion of an etalon between the one or more reflecting elements and a viewer.

In some embodiments of the method, the light is reflected with a plurality of discrete reflecting elements, and the light may be reflected with one or more reflecting elements having sloped surfaces. The light may be reflected with one or more convex reflecting elements, or one or more concave reflecting elements. The light may be reflected with one or more reflecting elements comprising at least one of aluminum, silver, titanium, gold, and copper.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120001962 A1
Publish Date
01/05/2012
Document #
13232226
File Date
09/14/2011
USPTO Class
345690
Other USPTO Classes
359291, 427100
International Class
/
Drawings
10



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