Transparent Scattering Displays

Transparent displays have a variety of potential applications: one may use a storefront glass or a subway window as a projection screen, or display navigation and dashboard information while looking through the windshield of a car or plane. A number of technologies have been developed for such displays, but each has certain limitations.

We come up with a new kind of transparent display using the resonant scattering of nanoparticles. The screen consists of a transparent polymer embedded with designed nanoparticles. The nanoparticles selectively scatter the targeted wavelength of light that we project (therefore acting as a screen) but let other wavelengths of light pass through (therefore appearing transparent). Such screens are merely doped plastic foils. They are simple to manufacture, of low cost, scalable to large sizes, and have wide viewing angles, making them attractive for certain applications.

Our paper describes the concept and a single-color demonstration:
"Transparent displays enabled by resonant nanoparticle scattering," Chia Wei Hsu, Bo Zhen, Wenjun Qiu, Ofer Shapira, Brendan G. DeLacy, John D. Joannopoulos, and Marin Soljacic, Nature Communications 5, 3152 (2014); doi:10.1038/ncomms4152.

[A blue MIT logo is projected onto the transparent screen. Three cups are placed behind the screen to show its transparency.]

Demonstration videos of the screen are available: video1, video2.

These two excellent news articles explain the concept in simple terms:
This work was featured on MIT home page and Nature home page on Jan 22, 2014, and on the Feb 2014 issue of Nature Materials.

It is also mentioned by BBC News, ABC News, Popular Mechanics, CNET, Engadget, The Huffington Post UK, Daily Mail, Boston Magazine, Business Insider, GigaOM, Science/AAAS, MRS Materials360, ScienceDaily,, Science World Report,, NovusLight, Nanotechnology Now, Radiology Daily, Gizmag, Nanowerk, International Business Times, Business Standard, The Engineer, Tech Times, Science Newsline, Ubergizmo,, Computerworld, Examiner, OFweek, Science Codex, Brazilian Mail (Portuguese), Scinexx (German), SINC (Spanish), (Spanish), (Italian), (Chinese), (Chinese), (Chinese), (Chinese), (Chinese).