Using grating light valve (GLV) technology, picture elements (pixels) are formed on the surface of a silicon chip and become the source for display projection on anything from an auditorium screen down to a handheld computer display. Using GLV, displays of the future may cost much less, require less space, and make high-resolution images possible in handheld personal communication devices. GLV was developed by David Bloom together with his students at Stanford University. Bloom has since founded Silicon Light Machines, which is developing the technology further.
GLV uses micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology and optical physics to vary how light is reflected from each of multiple ribbon-like structures that represent a particular "image point" or pixel. The ribbons can move a tiny distance, changing the wavelength of reflected light. Grayscale tones are achieved partly by varying the speed at which given pixels are switched on and off. The resulting image can be projected in a large auditorium with a bright light source or on a small appliance using low-power LEDs as a light source.