In the cold water beds around Iceland, the UK and Norway, little mollusks can be found in the rock crevices. These mollusks are around the size of a fingernail and they are translucent. This makes them almost invisible. However, when sunlight refracts through the water and hits the mollusks at specific angles, it invades a set of dotted lines that emit across the shell. The stripes then emit back a green/blue fluorescent flash which indicate where the blue-ray limpet is residing and is living a contemplative vegetarian life.
This natural phenomenon has intrigued researchers to find out if the natural light show of a limpet could be chosen and adopted to create advanced augmented reality screens.
Creating Advanced Augmented Reality Screens
Keeping in tandem with the natural phenomenon revolving the mollusks, advanced augmented reality screen technologies could be developed which would let car drivers to project navigation and other information on the windscreen of a vehicle without causing any interference in the view of the road.
Head-up displays are already in use, but they are different than the development of AR screens which is being researched. The scientists are hoping that if the blue-ray limpet’s capacity to change its look under diverse lighting conditions is possible to mimic, augmented reality screens might be developed which show data even as users look through them.
How is the Research Being Done?
A team of researchers are working in both MIT and Harvard University and are investigating crystalline mineral formations in the shell of the mollusk. With this research, they have learnt that different calcium carbonate layers are laid down in different depths. This is done in such a way that light wavelengths are diverted to reflect only in blue.
For creating the AR screens, the researchers are re-arranging the spacing and thickness of material used in augmented displays so that users could access various data just by moving their head, instead of toggling a key or touching the screen.
The team led by Mathias Kolle, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, checked the mollusks using a scanning electron microscope, diffraction microscope and a spectroscope. They then applied 2D and 3D structural analysis and found out that at 30 microns depth below the surface of a limpet shell, the 3D calcium carbonate layers change into multilayered photonic pattern which is on top of a layer of spherical particles spaced randomly. The uppermost zigzag pattern emits only blue and some green lightwaves. The layer below, which is comprised of disordered particles, absorbs other wavelengths that cause the stripes to appear blue.
The academic journal “Nature Communications” covers the research in details.
What about you?
Are you going to read the journal? Do you think this research can finally help in creating advanced augmented reality screens? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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