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A*STAR Singapore - First full-colour images at 100,000 dpi resolution with assistance from nanotechnology

Evidence has been provided by researchers from The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore - Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) of a nano-scale colour rendition of a standard test image used in image processing experiments.  The researchers gained inspiration from colourful stained-glass windows, and have subsequently demonstrated a highly innovative method for producing sharp, full-spectrum colour images at 100,000 dots per inch (dpi), which has potential applicability in reflective colour displays, anti-counterfeiting and high-density optical data recording.  The dpi resolution achieved was done utilising metal-laced nanometer (nm) sized structures without the need for inks or dyes.

DCN Corp® - A coloured nano-scale rendition of a standard test image used in image processing experiments - (a). Before the addition of metal in the nanostructures, the image has only grayscale tones - observed via an optical microscope; (b). Colours are observed using the same optical microscope after addition of the metal layers to the nanostrucutres and in specific patterns; (c). Top right-hand corner - zooming into the image with the same set-up, the specular reflection at the corner of the eye is observed showing the refined colour detail that the new method is able to achieve. Bottom right-hand corner - made up of nanostructures as observed in the electron micrograph.  Credit - The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), SingaporeIn direct comparison - current industrial printers, such as inkjet and laser-jet printers can only achieve up to 10,000 dpi while research grade techniques are able to dispense dyes for only single colour images.  It is claimed that the novel breakthrough allows colouring to be treated not as an "inking" matter any longer, but more so a lithographic interface, which could potentially revolutionise the way images are printed.

As explained by Dr Karthik Kumar - one of the key researchers involved - "The resolution of printed colour images very much depends on the size and spacing between individual 'nano-dots' of colour."  He continues to state "The closer the dots are together and because of their small size, the higher the resolution of the image.  With the ability to accurately position these extremely small colour dots, we were able to demonstrate the highest theoretical print colour resolution of 100,000 dpi."

The conducted research was done in collaboration with A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) to design the pattern using computer simulation and modelling.  Dr Ravi Hedge of IHPC said, "The computer simulations were vital in understanding how the structures gave rise to such rich colours.  This knowledge is currently being used to predict the behavior of more complicated nano-structure arrays."

Original article is available here - and it is anticipated that the Proof-of-Principle (PoP) research will be strategically collaborated and explored for licensing via A*STAR technology-transfer offices - Exploit Technologies Pte Limited (ETPL).  In addition, the research was published online on 12th August 2012 in Nature Nanotechnology.

A question that remains is could DCN Corp's simple 'bottom-up' nano displacement technology be a viable competitor?  If so, and you believe you or your colleagues are interested in making the above a reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.