Posted in electronic imaging and displays

forget LEDs; it’s beads!

From Gadget Lab:

Research into color-changing nanoparticles could pave the way for a new kind of display technology. A breakthrough promises tiny molecules that can change color in response to an external magnetic field that can be used to create outdoor displays and posters.

“We have developed a new way to induce color change in materials that can be fabricated on a large scale and is pretty close to commercialization,” says Yadong Yin, an assistant professor of chemistry at University of California, Riverside, who led the study that included contributions from South Korean scientists.

The technique centers on polymer beads, called magnetochromatic microspheres, which are dispersed in a liquid such as water, alcohol or hexane.

Inside the beads are magnetic iron oxide nanostructures. Changing the orientation of the nanostructures with an external magnetic field helps produce the change in color of the beads.

The process is similar to the way electrophoretic displays, more commonly known as electronic ink, work. The two systems share common properties such as being bistable (stable in two distinct states), being readable in direct sunlight and consuming very little power.

Read the full article

Here’s a Youtube video of the beady action. I just like the name, “magnetochromatic microspheres.”



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.