Driving a car safely means doing more than keeping an eye on the road. The driver also has to keep an eye on the dashboard. But looking away from the road takes time; and can be fatal in dangerous situations. Now, ‘chip’ LED lights powered up with transparent wires could change the way drivers get information about their cars. At the Fiat Research Institute in Turin, Italy, researchers are working on new transparent screens.
Vito Lambertini, a researcher on the project, said: “A display which is directly in front of a driver allows them to get information without distracting from their driving and their view of the road. It means they can get important information in real time.”
Scientists at the European Research Project Multiflexioxides have developed a display unit which works without backlighting. It is much thinner and lighter than traditional displays. Scientists developed these transparent displays using small glass pads with a transparent substrata of nano-sized oxides. To enhance the materials’ conductivity they add a thin gold film.
Using a method called microlithography the gold molecules settle on the treated area of the glass pad. A stencil with a pattern of very thin lines is laid over the prepared pad. Ultraviolet light destroys the gold layer and only the nearly invisible lines covered by the pattern remain on the glass.
Chip LEDs are placed at the end of the gold lines. They are powered via the ultra-thin gold wires. Scientists in Italy have tested this technology both on glass and on flexible plastic substrates.
So engineers are now one step closer to displaying vehicle information directly onto the windscreen. In the future these transparent displays could not only revolutionise car design, they also improve road safety.