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The Future

Take a peek at some of the next-generation device technologies we are developing

Sharp Corporation has a rich heritage of research and development, pioneering new markets with advanced technologies that enrich our lives. New device technology from Sharp has consistently been the key to unique, world-first products. No greater example exists than LCDs: today we just have to glance at our smartphone to appreciate how LCD display technology from Sharp has revolutionised our daily activity.

But what of the future?

Sharp invests strongly in advanced R&D to stay at the cutting edge of technology development. Sharp has 8 global R&D laboratories and here in Europe we are fortunate to have Sharp Laboratories of Europe (SLE) on our doorstep. In partnership with experts at SLE we are working to develop the business for some truly ground-breaking energy, sensing and medical applications.

Here are just 3 of the exciting technology developments that are on-going and which we plan to commercialise in the near future.

Energy harvesting solar cells

Sharp’s latest energy harvesting technology generates six times more power than conventional photo-voltaic devices for a given surface area. The technology is targeted for applications where the current dependence on batteries needs to be reduced, for example in maintenance-free sensor applications or wearable devices. Development targets include:

  • Use with ambient LED and CCFL lighting and effectiveness in low light levels (<10lux)
  • Easy system integration, small-footprint, maintenance-free solutions
  • An ideal match for Sharp's Memory in Pixel (MiP) LCD for low power display solutions

We are currently exploring the application of energy harvesting technology with a number of our customers.

Droplet microfluidics

Sharp is developing automated miniature droplet handling technology using design and manufacturing techniques for our advanced thin-film transistors (TFT) process technologies. This remarkable technology, known as “droplet microfluidics”, uses TFT on a glass chip to manipulate up to many thousands of nanolitre-sized droplets on a single array smaller than a credit-card.

Such a ‘lab-on-a-chip’ microfluidics platform can be used to automate biological tests and assays that are currently performed by hand using traditional pipetting techniques. The ability to manipulate many thousands of droplets at the same time allows hundreds of tests to be run in parallel and the small droplet size reduces the volume – and hence cost - of reagents used.

Uses of the technology range from laboratory based tools to medical diagnostics chip. We are currently exploring commercial applications of the technology in collaboration with selected industry partners.

UV lasers

Deep ultraviolet (UV) light will feature in some of the most important new products of the next decade. This light sterilises harmful bacteria and viruses and will be used in products which create a healthier living environment by disinfecting surfaces, air and drinking water. Deep UV also interacts strongly with many important molecules – from proteins to pollutants – and thereby enables new sensor technologies for monitoring chemical or biological compounds. These sensors will make healthcare, homes and workplaces smarter and safer.

Sharp’s solid-state UV lasers are made possible by advances in semiconductor, material and optical technologies. These lasers emit deep UV light at wavelengths between 210 nm and 230 nm and this light is particularly useful for chemical and biological sensing.

We are currently applying the newly-developed components into original sensor technologies in collaboration with potential customers.

More details about the UVC laser module technology and applications are introduced in a White Paper available from Optics.org.