Laser video display

Laser color television (laser TV), or laser color video display utilizes two or more individually modulated optical (laser) rays of different colors to produce a combined spot that is scanned and projected across the image plane by a polygon-mirror system or less effectively by optoelectronic means to produce a color-television display. The systems work either by scanning the entire picture a dot at a time and modulating the laser directly at high frequency, much like the electron beams in a cathode ray tube, or by optically spreading and then modulating the laser and scanning a line at a time, the line itself being modulated in much the same way as with digital light processing (DLP).

The special case of one ray reduces the system to a monochromatic display as, for example, in black-and-white television. This principle applies to a display as well as to a (front or rear) projection technique with lasers (a laser projector).


The laser source for television or video display was originally proposed by Helmut K.V. Lotsch in the German Patent 1 193 844.[1] In December 1977 H.K.V. Lotsch and F. Schroeter explained laser color television for conventional as well as projection-type systems and gave examples of potential applications.[2] 18 years later the German-based company Schneider AG presented a functional laser-TV prototype at IFA'95 in Berlin/Germany. Due to bankruptcy of Schneider AG, however, the prototype was never developed further to a market-ready product.

Proposed in 1966,[3] laser illumination technology remained too costly to be used in commercially viable consumer products.[4] At the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in 2006, Novalux Inc., developer of Necsel semiconductor laser technology, demonstrated their laser illumination source for projection displays and a prototype rear-projection "laser" TV.[5] First reports on the development of a commercial Laser TV were published as early as February 16, 2006[6][7] with a decision on the large-scale availability of laser televisions expected by early 2008.[8] On January 7, 2008, at an event associated with the Consumer Electronics Show 2008, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, a key player in high-performance red-laser[9] and large-screen HDTV markets, unveiled their first commercial Laser TV, a 65" 1080p model.[10][11][12] A Popular Science writer was impressed by the color rendering of a Mitsubishi laser video display at CES 2008.[13] Some even described it as being too intense to the point of seeming artificial.[14] ThislLaser TV, branded "Mitsubishi LaserVue TV", went on sale, November 16, 2008 for $6,999, but Mitsubishi's entire laser TV project was killed in 2012.[15][16][17]

LG introduced a front projected laser TV in 2013[18] as a consumer product that displays images and videos measuring 100 inches (254 centimeters) with a full high-definition resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It can project images onto the screen at a distance of 22 inches (56 centimeters).


Lasers may become an ideal replacement for the UHP lamps[19] which are currently in use in projection display devices such as rear-projection TV and front projectors. LG claims a lifetime of 25,000 hours[20] for their laser projector, compared to 10,000 hours for a UHP. Current televisions are capable of displaying only 40% of the color gamut that humans can potentially perceive.[21]

Color television requires light in three distinct wavelengths—red, green, and blue. While red laser diodes are commercially available, there are no commercially available green laser diodes which can provide the required power at room temperature with an adequate lifetime. Instead, frequency doubling can be used to provide the green wavelengths. Several types of lasers can be used as the frequency doubled sources: fibre lasers, inter-cavity doubled lasers, external cavity doubled lasers, eVCSELs, and OPSLs (Optically Pumped Semiconductor Lasers). Among the inter-cavity doubled lasers, VCSELs have shown much promise and potential to be the basis for a mass-produced frequency doubled laser.

The blue laser diodes became openly available around 2010.

A VECSEL is a vertical cavity, and is composed of two mirrors. On top of one of them is a diode as the active medium. These lasers combine high overall efficiency with good beam quality. The light from the high power IR-laser diodes is converted into visible light by means of extra-cavity waveguided second-harmonic generation. Laser pulses with about 10 kHz repetition rate and various lengths are sent to a digital micromirror device where each mirror directs the pulse either onto screen or into the dump. Because the wavelengths are known all coatings can be optimized to reduce reflections and therefore speckle.


Laser signal modulation

The video signal is introduced to the laser beam by an acousto-optic modulator (AOM) that uses a photorefractive crystal to separate the beam at distinct diffraction angles. The beam must enter the crystal at the specific Bragg angle of that AOM crystal. A piezoelectric element transforms the video signal into vibrations in the crystal to create an image.

Horizontal and vertical refresh

A rapidly rotating polygonal mirror gives the laser beam the horizontal refresh modulation. It reflects off of a curved mirror onto a galvanometer-mounted mirror which provides the vertical refresh. Another way is to optically spread the beam and modulate each entire line at once, much like in a DLP, reducing the peak power needed in the laser and keeping power consumption constant.

Display characteristics

  • Maintain full power output for the lifespan of the laser; the picture quality will not degrade
  • Have a very wide color gamut, which can produce up to 90% of the colors a human eye can perceive by adjusting the wavelength of the laser[22]
  • Capable of displaying 3D stereoscopic video
  • Can be projected onto any depth or shape surface while maintaining focus.


There are several realizations of laser projectors, one example being based on the principle of a flying light spot writing the image directly onto a screen. A laser projector of this type consists of three main components — a laser source uses the video signal to provide modulated light composed of the three sharp spectral colors — red, green, and blue — which a flexible, fiber-optic waveguide then transports to a relatively small projection head. The projection head deflects the beam according to the pixel clock and emits it onto a screen at an arbitrary distance. Such laser projection techniques are used in handheld projectors, planetariums, and for flight simulators and other virtual reality applications.

Due to the special features of laser projectors, such as a high depth of field, it is possible to project images or data onto any kind of projection surface, even non-flat. Typically, the sharpness, color space, and contrast ratio are higher than those of other projection technologies. For example, the on-off contrast of a laser projector is typically 50,000:1 and higher, while modern DLP and LCD projectors range from 1000:1 to 40,000:1. In comparison to conventional projectors, laser projectors provide a lower luminous flux output, but because of the extremely high contrast the brightness actually appears to be greater.


  1. German Patent 1 193 844 entitled "Optischer Sender fuer mindestens zwei Farbkomponeneten" was filed on October 26, 1963 by - and awarded on January 20, 1966 to - the German company Telefunken. Helmut K.V. Lotsch has explicitly been named the inventor.
  2. H.K.V. Lotsch, F. Schroeter: Das Laser Farb-Fernsehen, LASER 2 (December 1977) 37-39.
  3. "2006 Laser Projection Systems Report". Insight Media. 2006-02-02. Archived from the original on 2008-01-18.
  4. "Big Blue Laser in a Small Package: Is it Coming Soon? - Greg Niven" (PDF). Coherent Inc. 2003-02-01.
  5. "Novalux Wins Insight Media "Best Buzz" Award at Consumer Electronics Show 2006". Insight Media. 2006-02-01.
  6. "Mitsubishi Joins the Laser-TV Club". Display Daily. 2006-02-16. Archived from the original on 2008-04-06.
  7. Marriott, Michel (2006-04-03). "Mitsubishi Harnesses Colored Lasers to Produce New-Generation Lightweight HDTV". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  8. "Laser TV Technology: Plasma and LCD Killer". Gizmodo. 2006-10-11. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  9. "Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc. Announces Screen Sizes for LaserVue Laser TV Shipping in Third Quarter 2008" (PDF). Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc. 2008-06-25.
  10. "Mitsubishi Unveils Laser TV, 3-D Home Theater". 2008-01-08.
  11. "HDTVs: Mitsubishi Laser TV's Colors Look Even Juicier Than the Girls on the Set". Gizmodo. 2008-01-08.
  12. "Mitsubishi laser TV unveiled". Engadget. 2008-01-08.
  13. "Color Burns Bright With Mitsubishi's Laser TV". Popular Science Blog. 2008-01-09.
  14. "Mitsubishi Laser TV: Colors May Be Too Brilliant". Today @ PC World. 2008-01-08. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  15. "Mitsubishi announces prices for its laser-based HDTV". Bitstream. 2008-09-08. Archived from the original on 2008-09-08.
  16. "Mitsubishi Electric LaserVue - FAQ". Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc. 2008-04-07. Archived from the original on 2009-08-28. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  17. "Mitsubishi Exits RPTV, Inventory Almost Gone - Mitsubishi Electric LaserVue Killed". 2012-12-03. Archived from the original on 2013-05-25. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  18. "Mitsubishi announces prices for its laser-based HDTV". cnet. 2013-03-08.
  19. "The Technology Behind the Display". Novalux. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  20. "LG Laser Display Specifications". LG Electronics.
  21. Morgenstern, Steve (2007). "Laser-Sharp Color". Popular Science. 270 (1): 24.
  22. Chen, Yunfei; Liu, Xaodong; Wang, Lipo; Ji, Chunlei; Sun, Qiang; Ren, Yuan; Wang, Xin (November 2014). Systems and Computer Technology. CRC Press. p. 1. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
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