ASME-Landmark:Digital Micromirror Device


The development of the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) began in 1977 with the forming of a small team at Texas Instruments headed by noted physicist Larry Hornbeck. The Department of Defense had given Texas Instruments a project to create a device that could modulate light. Through years of research and development, Hornbeck came up with an idea to use micromirrors as a sort of on-off switch to modulate digital light pulses.

In 1987, ten years after the project's start, the first DMD was created at Texas Instruments. Hornbeck was granted the first patent for the DMD design in 1991. This initial design was the basis for current Digital Micromirror Devices. Soon, DMD chips were incorporated into Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors. Each micromirror in a DMD represented 1 pixel in a projected image. The DLP projectors included either one or three DMD chips and weighed in under two pounds, less than half the weight of previous projectors. DLP projectors were incorporated into many companies' offices, modernizing the conference room. The DLP projector, made possible by the Digital Micromirror Device, also impacted the movie industry. Reels of film used in old projectors became obsolete with the introduction of DLP projectors.

The Digital Micromirror Device changed the projection and film industry forever. Researchers continue to develop DMD technology and explore its future uses in a variety of fields. See ASME website for more information