It's amazing. It's the mirrors.™ Millions of tinymirrors on a small DLP chip are at the heart of DLP picture technology.
The DLP® chip was invented by Dr. Larry Hornbeck of Texas Instruments in 1987. When coordinated with a digital video or graphic signal, a light source, and a projection lens, its mirrors can reflect a digital image onto a screen or other surface. The number and arrangement of mirrors in the chip determine the resolution of that digital image.
The micromirrors in a DLP® chip tilt either toward the light source in a DLP® projection system (ON) or away from it (OFF) - creating a light or dark pixel on the projection surface.
Based on the image code entering the semiconductor, each mirror switches on and off up to several thousand times per second. When a mirror is switched on more frequently than off, it reflects a light gray pixel; a mirror that's switched off more frequently reflects a darker gray pixel.
The mirrors in a DLP® projection system can reflect pixels in up to 1,024 shades of gray. This gives the video or graphic signal entering the DLP® chip a highly detailed grayscale image.
The white light from the lamp in a DLP® projection system passes through a color filter as it travels to the DLP® chip. The segments of the color filter divide the light into red, green, and blue (RGB), from which a single-chip DLP® projection system can create at least 16.7 million colors. Many DLP projectors feature up to 6 color processing so that trillions of colors can be produced.
The on and off states of each DLP® micromirror are coordinated with colors of the color filter. For example, a mirror responsible for projecting a purple pixel will only reflect red and blue light; our eyes then blend these instantaneous flashes to see the intended hue in the projected image.
Single-chip DLP® projectors: Most home theater and business projectors using DLP® technology rely on a single chip configuration like the one described above.
White light from the lamp passes through the color filter, sending a minimum of red, green and blue light to the surface of the DLP® chip. The switching of the micromirrors, and the proportion of time they are 'on' or 'off', is coordinated according to the color shining on them. The human visual system coalesces the sequential color and interprets it as a full-color image.
Three-chip DLP® projectors: Projectors for very high brightness applications such as cinema and large venue displays rely on a 3-chip configuration to produce stunning images.
In a three-chip system, the white light from the lamp passes through a prism that divides it into red, green and blue. Each DLP® chip is dedicated to one of the three colors; the colored light that the micromirrors reflect is then combined and passed through the projection lens to form a highly defined, full color image.
Source: DLP.com, September 2007
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