Facebook Patent | Feedback Circuit For Calibrating A Current Mode Display

Patent: Feedback Circuit For Calibrating A Current Mode Display

Publication Number: 20190156721

Publication Date: 20190523

Applicants: Facebook

Abstract

Techniques are described for collecting feedback on a display comprising a plurality of emitters arranged in a column. Each emitter is driven by a respective emitter cell that generates a driving current for the emitter based on digital data or an analog representation thereof. The digital data or analog representation is sequentially shifted through the entire column. An electrical signal associated with a last emitter to be driven based on the digital data or analog representation is measured, along a feedback path formed by selectively opening or closing a first switch and a second switch, which are respectively connectable to an anode and a cathode of the last emitter. Since each emitter cell contributes to the electrical signal, the value of the electrical signal is indicative of whether there is a problem with an emitter cell somewhere in the column. The subsequently driving of the emitters is adjusted accordingly.

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit and priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) of Greece Patent Application No. 20170100527, entitled “Current Mode Active Matrix Analysis,” filed Nov. 23, 2017 and Greece Patent Application No. 20180100411, entitled “Feedback Circuit for Calibrating a Current Mode Display,” filed Sep. 7, 2018, the contents of which are incorporated herein in their entirety for all purposes.

BACKGROUND

[0002] In certain types of display systems, it is sometimes desirable to control different light emitters to generate the same output. For example, the same color and/or intensity may be output by different emitters at different times. The transmission of image data to circuitry that drives the emitters needs to be precisely controlled in order to ensure that the emitters are activated at appropriate times. Additionally, it is sometimes desirable to monitor the performance of the display system to determine whether the emitters are being driven correctly. If the display system does not have the capability of collecting feedback about performance, it may be difficult to add such capability after the display system has been integrated into an end-user product. For example, after the display system has been placed into a housing of a display assembly, it is usually impossible to access the emitters to perform electrical measurements unless the display assembly is disassembled.

BRIEF SUMMARY

[0003] The present disclosure relates to techniques for collecting feedback on a display comprising a plurality of emitters arranged in a column. The techniques described herein enable monitoring of the performance of the display. In certain embodiments, each emitter is driven by a respective emitter cell that generates a driving current for the emitter based on digital data or an analog representation thereof, and the digital data or analog representation is sequentially shifted through the entire column. An electrical signal associated with a last emitter to be driven based on the digital data or analog representation can be measured, along a feedback path formed by selectively opening or closing a first switch and a second switch, which are respectively connectable to an anode and a cathode of the last emitter. Since each emitter cell contributes to the electrical signal, the value of the electrical signal is indicative of whether there is a problem with an emitter cell somewhere in the column. The subsequently driving of the emitters can be adjusted accordingly.

[0004] In certain embodiments, a display system includes a feedback arrangement for collecting feedback about the operational status or health of the driving circuitry, the data shifting circuitry, and/or the emitters themselves. The feedback is collected through a configurable feedback path and can include voltage and/or current measurements. In some embodiments, feedback is collected by shifting a test value through an entire column of emitter circuits in order to obtain a measurement indicative of the health of the column as a whole.

[0005] In certain embodiments, a display system includes an emitter array, a display driver, a driving circuit, a first switch, and a second switch. The emitter array includes a plurality of emitters arranged in a column. The display driver includes a feedback processing unit, wherein the display driver is configured to output digital data or an analog representation of the digital data for driving the emitters. The driving circuit comprises a plurality of emitter cells, each emitter cell including circuitry that generates a driving current through a respective emitter of the plurality of emitters based on the digital data or analog representation. The first switch and the second switch are connected to the feedback processing unit, which is configured to measure an electrical signal along a feedback path formed by selectively opening or closing the first switch and the second switch. The electrical signal is associated with a last emitter to be driven based on the digital data or analog representation, and each emitter cell contributes to the electrical signal.

[0006] In certain embodiments, a method for collecting feedback on a display includes driving a plurality of emitters arranged in a column, wherein each emitter of the plurality of emitters is driven by a respective emitter cell that generates a driving current for the emitter based on digital data or an analog representation of the digital data. The method further includes measuring an electrical signal associated with a last emitter of the plurality of emitters to be driven based on the digital data or analog representation. The electrical signal is measured along a feedback path leading from the last emitter, and each emitter cell contributes to the electrical signal. The method further includes comparing a value of the electrical signal to an expected value and adjusting, based on the comparing, an extent to which each of the emitters is subsequently driven.

[0007] In certain embodiments, a computer readable storage medium stores instructions that, when executed by one or more processors of a computer system including a display, cause the one or more processors to drive a plurality of emitters arranged in a column. Each emitter of the plurality of emitters is driven by a respective emitter cell that generates a driving current for the emitter based on digital data or an analog representation of the digital data. The instructions further cause the one or more processors to measure an electrical signal associated with a last emitter of the plurality of emitters to be driven based on the digital data or analog representation.

[0008] The electrical signal is measured along a feedback path leading from the last emitter, and each emitter cell contributes to the electrical signal. The instructions further cause the one or more processors to compare a value of the electrical signal to an expected value; adjust, based on the comparing, an extent to which each of the emitters is subsequently driven; and rotate a reflective surface of a scanning assembly to form an output image by reflecting light emitted from the plurality of emitters. The reflective surface is rotated through a plurality of positions such that at different rotational positions, light emitted from different emitters of the plurality of emitters is reflected onto a same location of the output image.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] Illustrative embodiments are described with reference to the following figures.

[0010] FIG. 1 shows a waveguide assembly for implementing one or more embodiments.

[0011] FIG. 2 is a simplified block diagram of a display system including a scanning display, for implementing one or more embodiments.

[0012] FIG. 3 shows the operation of the scanning display of FIG. 2.

[0013] FIGS. 4A to 4E illustrate shifting of image data from a scanning display onto a user’s eye, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0014] FIG. 5 is a high level block diagram of a display system, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0015] FIG. 6 is a simplified block diagram of a display system including data shifting elements, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0016] FIG. 7 is a circuit diagram of an analog emitter cell, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0017] FIG. 8 is a circuit diagram of a digital emitter cell, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0018] FIG. 9 is a circuit diagram of an analog emitter cell including a data shifting component, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0019] FIG. 10 shows shifting of data between two analog emitter cells, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0020] FIG. 11 shows an emitter layout with phantom emitters, for implementing one or more embodiments.

[0021] FIG. 12 shows an analog phantom cell, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0022] FIG. 13 shows an arrangement of two analog emitter cells and one phantom cell, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0023] FIG. 14 shows an arrangement of two analog emitter cells and one phantom cell, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0024] FIG. 15 shows a digital emitter cell and a digital phantom cell with data shifting components, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0025] FIG. 16 shows latch based emitter and phantom cells, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0026] FIG. 17 is a simplified block diagram of a bidirectional data shifting circuit, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0027] FIG. 18 is a simplified block diagram of a display system including digital data shifting components, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0028] FIG. 19 is a simplified block diagram of a display system including analog data shifting components, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0029] FIG. 20 is a simplified block diagram of a display system with feedback collection capabilities, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0030] FIG. 21 is a flowchart of a method for calibrating a driving circuit, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0031] The figures depict embodiments of the present disclosure for purposes of illustration only. One skilled in the art will readily recognize from the following description that alternative embodiments of the structures and methods illustrated may be employed without departing from the principles, or benefits touted, of this disclosure.

[0032] In the appended figures, similar components and/or features may have the same reference label. Further, various components of the same type may be distinguished by following the reference label by a dash and a second label that distinguishes among the similar components. If only the first reference label is used in the specification, the description is applicable to any one of the similar components having the same first reference label irrespective of the second reference label.

[0033] In the appended figures, certain naming conventions have been applied for convenience, such as the letter “M” followed by a numeral to identify a particular transistor in a circuit, or the letter “C” followed by a numeral to identify a particular capacitor in a circuit. The same text label may be applied to different components. Where appropriate, reference numerals have been added for clarity. For example, M1 in one figure may refer to a different transistor than M1 in another figure unless both M1s are marked with the same reference numeral.

[0034] The terms “row” and “column” are used herein to refer to a physical arrangement of emitters and/or emitter related circuitry into groups, and are sometimes used together to differentiate between two spatial dimensions that are orthogonal to each other. Rows and columns are generally interchangeable and should not be taken to refer to any particular dimension. For instance, a row can refer to either the horizontal or the vertical dimension of a display device.

[0035] The term “cell” is used herein to refer to a circuit that forms a building block for a more complex circuit that includes multiple instances of the cell. For example, each emitter may be paired with a respective emitter cell comprising circuitry for driving the emitter.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0036] In the following description, for the purposes of explanation, specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of certain inventive embodiments. However, it will be apparent that various embodiments may be practiced without these specific details. The figures and description are not intended to be restrictive.

[0037] Example embodiments relate to techniques for controlling a display comprising a plurality of light emitters, by shifting input data between light emitters. Various data shifting arrangements are described, including analog circuit implementations and digital circuit implementations. The embodiments described herein may be used in various combinations. For example, a digital data shifter can be used in combination with an analog emitter circuit or in combination with a digital emitter circuit. The combinations described herein are therefore to be taken as illustrative.

[0038] In certain embodiments, a display system includes a feedback arrangement for collecting feedback about the operational status or health of the driving circuitry, the data shifting circuitry, and/or the emitters themselves. The feedback is collected through a configurable feedback path and can include voltage and/or current measurements. In some embodiments, feedback is collected by shifting a test value through an entire column of emitter circuits in order to obtain a measurement indicative of the health of the column as a whole.

[0039] Embodiments of the invention may include or be implemented in conjunction with an artificial reality system. Artificial reality is a form of reality that has been adjusted in some manner before presentation to a user, which may include, e.g., a virtual reality (VR), an augmented reality (AR), a mixed reality (MR), a hybrid reality, or some combination and/or derivatives thereof. Artificial reality content may include completely generated content or generated content combined with captured (e.g., real-world) content. The artificial reality content may include video, audio, haptic feedback, or some combination thereof, and any of which may be presented in a single channel or in multiple channels (such as stereo video that produces a three-dimensional effect to the viewer). Additionally, in some embodiments, artificial reality may also be associated with applications, products, accessories, services, or some combination thereof, that are used to, e.g., create content in an artificial reality and/or are otherwise used in (e.g., perform activities in) an artificial reality. The artificial reality system that provides the artificial reality content may be implemented on various platforms, including a head-mounted display (HIVID) connected to a host computer system, a standalone HIVID, a mobile device or computing system, or any other hardware platform capable of providing artificial reality content to one or more viewers.

[0040] Example embodiments relate generally to techniques for shifting data in connection with operation of a display. In some embodiments, the display is a scanning display that generates an output image for a user of an HIVID by scanning a display image using a scanning assembly (e.g., a rotating scanning mirror or some other reflective surface). The scanning can be in one or more directions (e.g., along display rows and/or display columns) and can cover one or more rows/columns at a time (e.g., multiple rows per color). The scanning can be used to form an output image that is larger and/or of a different resolution than the physical display. As will be explained, a scanning display can be operated by shifting the same image data down a row or column to cause the next emitter in the same row/column to produce the same light output as the previous emitter. One practical application for shifting the image data in this manner is to generate a single pixel of the output image using contributions from multiple emitters. The outputs of different emitters can be mapped onto the same spatial position in the output image using the scanning apparatus. If the scanning is performed fast enough, the user will perceive the outputs of the emitters as a single unit, e.g., through integrating the intensities of the individual emitters.

[0041] Example embodiments are described in connection with current mode displays, i.e., displays in which the emitters are driven using input currents. However, the data shifting techniques described herein can be readily adapted for voltage controlled displays.

Data Shifting In Scanning Displays

[0042] FIG. 1 shows a waveguide assembly 100 for implementing one or more embodiments. In some embodiments, the waveguide assembly 100 is a component of a near-eye display (NED), for example, an HMD. The waveguide assembly 100 includes a scanning display 110, an output waveguide 120, and a controller 130. For purposes of illustration, FIG. 1 shows the waveguide assembly 100 associated with a single eye 190, but in some embodiments, another waveguide assembly separate (or partially separate) from the waveguide assembly 100, provides image light to another eye of the user. In a partially separate system, one or more components may be shared between waveguide assemblies for each eye.

[0043] The scanning display 110 generates image light 155. The scanning display 110 includes a light source 140 and an optics system 145. The light source 140 is an optical component that generates light using a plurality of emitters placed in an array.

[0044] The optics system 145 performs a set of optical processes, including, but not restricted to, focusing, combining, collimating, transforming, conditioning, and scanning processes on the image light generated by the light source 140. The optics system 145 may include a conditioning assembly and a scanning mirror assembly, which are shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. The scanning display 110 generates and outputs image light 155–influenced by at least one of the light source 140, the conditioning assembly, and the scanning mirror assembly–to one or more coupling elements 150 of the output waveguide 120.

[0045] The output waveguide 120 is an optical waveguide that outputs images to the eye 190 of the user. The output waveguide 120 receives the image light 155 at one or more coupling elements 150, and guides the received input image light 155 to one or more decoupling elements 160. In some embodiments, the one or more coupling elements 150 couple the image light 155 from the scanning display 110 into the output waveguide 120. The one or more coupling elements 150 may include, e.g., a diffraction grating, a holographic grating, some other element that couples the image light 155 into the output waveguide 120, or some combination thereof. For example, in embodiments where the coupling elements 150 include a diffraction grating, the pitch of the diffraction grating is chosen such that total internal reflection occurs, and the image light 155 propagates internally toward the one or more decoupling elements 160.

[0046] The one or more decoupling elements 160 decouple the total internally reflected image light from the output waveguide 120. The one or more decoupling elements 160 may include, e.g., a diffraction grating, a holographic grating, some other element that decouples image light out of the output waveguide 120, or some combination thereof. For example, in embodiments where the one or more decoupling elements 160 include a diffraction grating, the pitch of the diffraction grating is chosen to cause incident image light to exit the output waveguide 120. An orientation and position of the light exiting from the output waveguide 120 is controlled by changing an orientation and position of the image light 155 entering the one or more coupling elements 150.

[0047] The output waveguide 120 may be composed of one or more materials that facilitate total internal reflection of the image light 155. The output waveguide 120 may be composed of e.g., silicon, plastic, glass, or polymers, or some combination thereof. The output waveguide 120 has a relatively small form factor. For example, the output waveguide 120 may be approximately 50 mm wide along an x-dimension, 30 mm long along a y-dimension and 0.5 to 1 mm thick along a z-dimension.

[0048] The controller 130 controls the scanning operations of the scanning display 110. The controller 130 determines scanning instructions for the scanning display 110 based at least on the one or more display instructions. Display instructions are instructions to render one or more images. In some embodiments, display instructions may simply be an image file (e.g., bitmap). The display instructions may be received from, e.g., a console of a NED system (not shown). Scanning instructions are instructions used by the scanning display 110 to generate image light 155. The scanning instructions may include, e.g., a type of a source of image light (e.g., monochromatic, polychromatic), a scanning rate, an orientation of a scanning apparatus, one or more illumination parameters (described below with reference to FIG. 2), or some combination thereof. The controller 130 includes a combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware not shown here so as not to obscure other aspects of the disclosure.

[0049] FIG. 2 is a simplified block diagram of a display system 200 for implementing one or more embodiments. The display system 200 includes a scanning display 210, which is an embodiment of the scanning display 110 of FIG. 1, and further includes a controller 230, a light source 240, and an optics system 250. The light source 240 is an embodiment of the light source 140; the optics system 250 is an embodiment of the optics system 145; and the controller 230 is an embodiment of the controller 130.

[0050] The scanning display 210 generates image light 245 in accordance with scanning instructions from the controller 230. The scanning display 210 includes a light source 240 and an optics system 250. The light source 240 is a source of light that generates a spatially coherent or a partially spatially coherent source light 215. The optics system 250 comprises at least a conditioning assembly 270 and a scanning assembly 280. The conditioning assembly 270 conditions the source light 215 into conditioned light 235, and the scanning assembly 280 scans the conditioned light 235. The image light 245 may be coupled to an entrance of an output waveguide (e.g., one or more coupling elements 150 of the output waveguide 120 of FIG. 1).

[0051] The light source 240 emits light in accordance with one or more illumination parameters received from the controller 230. An illumination parameter is an instruction used by the light source 240 to generate light. An illumination parameter may include, e.g., source wavelength, pulse rate, pulse amplitude, beam type (continuous or pulsed), other parameter(s) that affect the emitted light, or some combination thereof. The illumination parameter can be applied to an emitter of the light source 240 using analog and/or digital signals.

[0052] The light source 240 comprises a plurality of emitters, wherein each emitter may be, e.g., a light-emitting diode (LED), a laser diode, a vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL), an organic LED (OLED), a micro-LED (uLED), a tunable laser, or some other light source that emits coherent or partially coherent light. The emitters of the light source 240 emit light in a visible band (e.g., from about 390 nm to 700 nm), and they may emit light in accordance with one or more illumination parameters. In some embodiments, the scanning display 210 comprises multiple light sources each with its own array of emitters emitting light in a distinct wavelength such that when scanned, light emitted from each of the light sources are overlapped to produce various wavelengths in a spectrum. Each emitter of the light source 240 comprises an emission surface from which a portion of source light is emitted. The emission surface may be identical for all emitters or may vary between emitters. An emitter width is a width of an area of the emission surface. The emission surface may have different shapes (e.g., circular, hexagonal, etc.). For example, an emitter which is a uLED with a circular emission surface may have an emitter width of 25 micrometers characterized as a diameter of the circular emission surface.

[0053] The plurality of emitters of the light source 240 is arranged as an array of emitters. The emitters can be organized in a one-dimensional (1D) or two-dimensional (2D) array. In a 2D array, the emitters are formed along a first dimension and a second dimension orthogonal to the first dimension (e.g., along rows and columns). Each column of emitters corresponds to a respective column in an image ultimately displayed to the user. The emitters may be of various colors. For example, the light source 240 may include a set of red emitters, a set of green emitters, and a set of blue emitters, where emitters of different color together form an individual pixel. For example, an individual pixel may include at least one red emitter, at least one green emitter, and at least one blue emitter. Rows of emitters of the same color may be arranged in a single group. For example, the array may comprise N rows of red emitters followed by N rows of green emitters and then N rows of blue emitters.

[0054] The light source 240 may include additional components (e.g., driving circuits, memory elements, heat sinks, etc.). In one or more embodiments, the light source 240 comprises a plurality of data shifting circuits and a plurality of driving circuits, which are electrically coupled to the array of emitters. The driving circuits include circuitry for controlling the array of emitters. The driver circuits apply illumination parameters received from the controller 230 (e.g., data values received from a display driver of the controller) to electrically control each emitter in the array of emitters using analog and/or digital control signals.

[0055] The light source 240 may further include phantom emitters, which are physical or imaginary emitters that are located between emitters that are actually used for generating light output. An example emitter layout including imaginary phantom emitters is shown in FIG. 11. Example embodiments of data shifting circuits for shifting data between actual emitters and phantom emitters, as well as between actual emitters, are described below.

[0056] The conditioning assembly 270 conditions source light 215 from the light source 240. Conditioning the source light 215 may include, e.g., expanding, collimating, focusing, distorting emitter spacing, adjusting orientation an apparent location of an emitter, correcting for one or more optical errors (e.g., field curvature, chromatic aberration), some other adjustment of the light, or some combination thereof. The conditioning assembly 270 comprises one or more optical elements (e.g., lenses, mirrors, apertures, gratings, or any other suitable optical element that affects image light).

[0057] The scanning assembly 280 includes one or more optical elements that redirect light via one or more reflective portions of the scanning assembly 280. The direction where the light is redirected toward depends on specific orientations of the one or more reflective portions. The one or more reflective portions of the scanning assembly may form a planar or curved surface (e.g., spherical, parabolic, concave, convex, cylindrical, etc.) that operates as a mirror. The scanning assembly 280 scans along at least one dimension of a 2D emitter array. In some embodiments, the scanning assembly 280 is configured to scan in at least the smaller of the two dimensions. For example, if the emitters are arranged in a 2D array where the rows are substantially longer (i.e., contain more emitters) than the columns, then the scanning assembly 280 may scan down the columns (e.g., row by row or multiple rows at a time). In other embodiments, the scanning assembly 280 may perform a raster scan (horizontally or vertically depending on scanning direction). The scanning assembly 280 can include multiple scanning mirrors, each of which is configured to scan in 0, 1, or 2 dimensions.

[0058] The controller 230 controls the light source 240 and the optics system 250. The controller 230 takes content for display and divides the content into discrete sections. The controller 230 instructs the light source 240 to sequentially present the discrete sections using individual emitters corresponding to a respective column in an image ultimately displayed to the user. The controller 230 instructs one or both of the conditioning assembly 270 and the scanning assembly 280 to condition and/or scan the presented discrete sections. The controller 230 controls the optics system 250 to direct the discrete sections of the image light 245 to different areas, e.g., different portions of one or more coupling elements 150 of the output waveguide 120. Accordingly, at the eye box of the output waveguide, each discrete portion is presented in a different location. While each discrete section is presented at different times, the presentation and scanning of the discrete sections occurs fast enough such that a user’s eye integrates the different sections into a single image or series of images. The controller 230 also provides illumination parameters (e.g., intensity or brightness values) for the light source 240. The controller 230 may control each individual emitter of the light source 240.

[0059] FIG. 3 shows the operation of the scanning display 210 of FIG. 2. The scanning display 210 generates light in accordance with scanning instructions from the controller 230. The light source 240 of the scanning display 210 generates the spatially coherent or the partially spatially coherent source light 215. The optics system 250 receives the source light 215 and with the conditioning assembly 270 converts the source light 215 into conditioned light 235. The conditioned light 235 is then scanned by the scanning mirror assembly 280. The scanning assembly 280 may perform the scanning by rotating about one or more axes (e.g., an axis 310), thereby emitting the image light 245 in one or more dimensions.

[0060] FIGS. 4A to 4E illustrate shifting of image data 400 from a scanning display onto a user’s eye, in accordance with an embodiment. The image data 400 is depicted using alphabetical labels “A” to “M”, with each letter representing a row of image data. Each piece of image data 400 is transmitted over time to N number of emitters 412. The emitters 412 may belong to different rows of the same column. Alternatively, the emitters 412 may belong to different columns of the same row. The shifting process depicted in FIGS. 4A to 4E can be used to simultaneously drive multiple rows/columns at a time. For example, in one embodiment the scanning display has 2,560.times.1,536 emitters with 3 colors (e.g., red, green, and blue) and N=8 rows per color. One way to operate the emitters is to send image data for all N emitters every time the row/column is activated. For example, the image data A, C, and E could be sent to emitters 412-C, 412-B, and 412-A, respectively, followed by image data B, D, and E during the next row time. The process of FIGS. 4A to 4E shows an alternative method that reduces the amount of data that needs to be sent.

[0061] FIG. 4A shows image data G being loaded into the emitter 412-A and scanned by an optics system 410 to emit light onto an output image 420. The output image 420 corresponds to an image projected onto an eye of a user. As shown, the value G is represented in the output image 420 at a spatial location corresponding to the location of the value Gin the image data 400. For convenience, these locations will be referred to as pixels even though, as explained earlier, a pixel may include multiple emitters of different colors rather than a single emitter. Each pixel in the output image 420 may be illuminated N times for each color over a scan cycle. For example, the image data G may be output N times, each time using a different one of the emitters 412. To avoid retransmitting the image data each time, the image data can be stored using storage elements 414 and shifted into the next emitter that is to receive the same image data.

[0062] FIG. 4B shows the image data G transferred to storage element 414-A and loading of new image data H into the emitter 412-A. The image data H is projected onto a corresponding pixel in the output image 420.

[0063] FIG. 4C shows the image data G loaded into emitter 412-B from the storage element 414-A. The image data H is loaded into the storage element 414-A in preparation for loading into the emitter 412-B during the next row time. Additionally, new image data I is loaded into emitter 412-A, with the image data G and I being projected onto the output image 420.

[0064] FIG. 4D shows the image data H loaded into emitter 412-B from the storage element 414-A. The image data I is loaded into the storage element 414-A in preparation for loading into the emitter 412-B during the next row time. Similarly, the image data G is loaded into the storage element 414-B in preparation for loading into the emitter 412-C during the next row time. Additionally, new image data J is loaded into emitter 412-A, with the image data H and J being projected onto the output image 420.

[0065] FIG. 4E shows the image data G loaded into emitter 412-C from the storage element 414-B and the image data I loaded into emitter 412-B from the storage element 414-A. The image data H and the image data J are loaded into the storage elements 414-B and 412-A, respectively. Additionally, new image data K is loaded into emitter 412-A, with the image data G, I, and K being projected onto the output image 420. Thus, FIGS. 4A to 4E illustrate the sequential loading of new image data into a first emitter (i.e., emitter 412-A), with the image data being shifted into other emitters (i.e., emitters 412-B and 412-C) using the storage elements 414, until the end of the row or column is reached. It can be seen that if the process were to continue, each item of image data would be projected onto the output image 420 a total of N times, once for each emitter 412, each time corresponding to a different rotational position of a scanning assembly. Each pixel of the output image 420 would then be perceived as an aggregate of N number of brightness units. The example of FIGS. 4A to 4E also illustrates the use of storage elements to implement phantom cells for temporary storage of image data with a one cycle delay in output to the next emitter. However, as will be explained, it is also possible to configure storage elements so that the image data is immediately shifted into the next emitter for the next row time.

Example Display Systems

[0066] FIG. 5 is a high level block diagram of a display system 500, in accordance with an embodiment. The display system 500 includes an emitter array 510 of light emitters (e.g., uLEDs). The emitter array 510 can be a 1D array (e.g., with 1.times.N emitters per color) or a 2D array (e.g., with N.times.M emitters per color). The display system 500 further includes a driving circuit 512, a data shifting circuit 520, and a display driver 530 communicatively coupled to the driving circuit 512 and the data shifting circuit 520.

[0067] The driving circuit 512 comprises a set of electrical components operable to generate inputs to the emitter array 510 under the control of the display driver 530. For example, the driving circuit 512 may include voltage and/or current generators that supply control signals which determine the light output of the emitter array. The driving circuit 512 may include an individual circuit for each emitter of the emitter array 510. In some embodiments, the driving circuit 512 is organized as an active matrix of electronics, with the layout of the matrix mirroring that of the emitter array. The driving circuit 512 can be located in proximity to the emitter array 510 and can be connected to the emitter array though one or more communication buses that include, for example, row and/or column selection lines and lines for supplying input data to the emitter array. Example building blocks of driving circuits are described below and are referred to herein as emitter cells. The emitter cells are shown in the figures as including emitters (depicted as light emitting diodes), in order to better explain the interactions between the driving circuit and the emitters. It will, however, be understood that the emitter can be remotely located from the rest of the emitter cell.

[0068] The data shifting circuit includes a plurality of storage elements (e.g., the storage elements 414 of FIGS. 4A to 4E) for storing and shifting data into emitters in the emitter array 510. Like the driving circuit 512, the data shifting circuit 520 can be physically separate from the emitter array 510 and can be coupled to the emitter array 510 using one or more communication buses. In some embodiments, the data shifting circuit 520 is integrated into the driving circuit 512 or the display driver 530. For example, the driving circuit 512 can be formed using emitter cells that include built-in data shifting elements.

[0069] The display driver 530 is configured to control the driving circuit 512 to supply image data to the emitters using analog and/or digital control signals. The display driver 530 is also configured to control the operation of the data shifting circuit 520, in particular the timing with which image data is loaded into and shifted out of storage elements. The display driver 530 can generate image data in synchronization with scanning of the emitters. For example, the display driver 530 may control the timing with which data is input to the first emitter in a column, as well as the timing of when data is shifted to the remaining emitters in the column, where the timings are relative to the instantaneous position of a scanning mirror controlled by the display driver 530. In particular, the display driver 530 can control the timings such that the light outputs from different emitters in the same column are combined into a single pixel of an output image.

[0070] In some embodiments, the display driver 530 is communicatively coupled to the emitter array through a feedback path 515 that connects to the driving circuit 512. The feedback path 515 provides for transmission of signals indicative of the operational status or health of the emitter array. The display driver 530 can process this feedback information to adjust the operation of the emitter array 510, e.g., to compensate for a defective emitter by increasing the outputs of other emitters to make up for the missing contribution of the defective emitter. An example display system with feedback capabilities is shown in FIG. 20.

[0071] FIG. 6 is a simplified block diagram of a display system 600 including data shifting elements, in accordance with an embodiment. The display system 600 includes a display driver 610 and a plurality of emitter columns 615. Each column of a particular color is coupled to a respective data shift register. For example, the first column of red emitters is coupled to a data shift register 620-A and the Mth column of red emitters is coupled to a data shift register 620-M. Similarly, data shifters 630 and 640 are provided for the green and blue emitters, respectively. The display driver 610 is configured to generate an enable signal 652, a plurality of scan signals 654, and a plurality of data signals 656. Each of the data shift registers 620, 630, and 640 may be coupled to the outputs of the display driver 610. The enable signal 652 is a global signal that enables the columns to be activated. The scan signals 654 are sequentially asserted to sequentially scan through N rows worth of image data per color. The data signals 656 provide image data to the columns, one row at a time.

[0072] As explained in connection with FIGS. 4A to 4E, instead of programming the emitters row by row, data throughout can be increased by programming only one row (for each color) at each row time since the data can be reused by other emitters in the same column. Thus, for example, the data shift registers 620 can shift image data from the first red emitter to the Nth red emitter of a particular column. Similarly, the data shift registers 630 and 640 can shift data from the first to the Nth blue or green emitter of a particular column.

[0073] FIG. 7 is a circuit diagram of a programmable analog emitter cell 700, in accordance with an embodiment. The emitter cell 700 includes an emitter 712 connected between a transistor M1 and a common cathode 715. The common cathode 715 may be shared by emitters of the same color, including emitters in different columns, and can be set to a particular voltage level depending on the color. While a simple ground node is generally sufficient for purposes of driving the emitter 712, having a controllable common cathode is useful for facilitating programming of the emitter cell using shifted data. The emitter cell 700 also includes transistors M2, M3, and M4, and a storage capacitor C1. M1, M2, and M3 can be p-channel metal-oxide-semiconductor field effect transistors (p-type MOSFETs or PMOS). M4 can be an n-type MOSFET or NMOS.

[0074] The emitter cell 700 can be programmed by asserting a signal “Row Select” 720 (e.g., one of the scan signals 654 in FIG. 6), which is connected to the gate of M2. Asserting the signal 720 causes a data signal 730 (e.g., one of the data signals 656) to be passed through M2 and stored as a charge onto capacitor C1, i.e., C1 is charged to a voltage representative of the data signal 730. The capacitor C1 is connected between a supply voltage Vdd and the gate of M1. The voltage of capacitor C1 can then be used to drive M1 while activating the transistor M3 so that a current path is established from Vdd to M1, producing a current through M1 (and thus emitter 712) that is proportional to the voltage of C1. The current through M1 can be output to another circuit via M4. A variation of the emitter cell 700 that supports data shifting is shown in FIG. 9.

[0075] FIG. 8 is a circuit diagram of a digital emitter cell 800, in accordance with an embodiment. The emitter cell 800 includes three PMOS transistors M1, M2, and M3 and an emitter 812. The anode side of the emitter 812 is connected to the transistors M2 and M3. The emitter 812 is also connected to a common cathode. M1 is connected between a supply voltage Vdd (e.g., +1V) and M2. The gate of M1 is controlled by an output of an AND logic gate 850, the inputs of which are a global on/off signal and an emitter on/off signal. The gate of M2 is connected to a global current mirror signal 816, which can be used to generate the same drive current in M2 of multiple emitter cells 800 simultaneously. Thus, M1 functions as an on/off switch and M2 sets the drive current. M3 is in a diode-connected configuration and receives a bias voltage 814 (e.g., -1V). M3 operates to short the emitter 812 to ensure that the emitter is fully deactivated (turned off) during times when the emitter is not supposed to emit light. A variation of the emitter cell 800 that supports data shifting is shown in FIG. 15.

[0076] Example data shifting circuits for shifting data between emitter cells will now be described. The various data shifting circuits described herein can be used to sequentially shift data into and out of emitter cells, e.g., to implement the shifting process described earlier with respect to FIGS. 4A to 4E.

Analog Data Shifting

[0077] FIG. 9 is a circuit diagram of an analog emitter cell 900 including a data shifting component, in accordance with an embodiment. The emitter cell 900 can be operated in two alternating phases using timing signals O.sub.1 and O.sub.2 and includes a current mirror block 910 and a data storage block 920. The emitter cell 900 includes eight transistors M1 to M8, two storage capacitors C1 and C2, and an emitter 912 (as mentioned earlier, the emitter can be located outside of the emitter cell). M1, M5, M6, M7, and M8 are NMOS. M2, M3, and M4 are PMOS and, since their source nodes are tied to Vdd (a substantially constant voltage), the currents through these M2, M3, and M4 depend only on their gate voltages as long as M2, M3, and M4 are operated in the saturation region. During phase 1, O.sub.1 turns on M1 and M8 to cause an input current “In” to be stored as a voltage onto capacitor C1. The voltage stored on C1 is a voltage sufficient for reproducing the input current when applied as gate voltage onto M3. M2 is also on during this time period to establish a current path to Vdd. During phase 1, the common cathode can be set high in order to ensure that the emitter 912 is reverse biased, thereby preventing current from flowing through the emitter 912. Reverse biasing the emitter improves performance, especially contrast ratio because darker “black” levels are achieved through preventing leakage current effects. Reverse biasing also isolates the emitter from flicker noise during programming. Without reverse biasing, the voltage stored on C1 could change over time during this programming phase, creating flicker noise if the current through M3 and emitter 912 isn’t constant.

[0078] During phase 2, M1 and M8 are off and the voltage that was stored on C1 during phase 1 generates a drive current through M3 to activate the emitter 912. During phase 2, the common cathode can be set low in order to forward bias the emitter 912 (e.g., by grounding the common cathode) and allow the drive current to flow through the emitter 912. Further, the drive current is mirrored into M4 since the gates of M2, M3, and M4 are connected. The mirrored current is also passed through M5 and M6, which are turned on by O.sub.2, to be stored as a voltage onto capacitor C2. M7 is also on during this time to establish a current path to the common cathode. M7 is placed into a diode-connected configuration since M6 is turned on. Thus, C2 is charged up to the voltage need to produce the current flowing through M5. As shown in FIG. 10, the node connecting M5, M6, and M7 can be connected to the input node of another instance of the emitter cell 900 to enable the voltage stored on C2 to be shifted into the other emitter cell during the next phase 1.

[0079] The transistors M2, M3, M4 can be sized for 1-to-1 current mirroring. Alternatively, to reduce the power consumption caused when a path from Vdd to the common cathode is established during programming, M3 can be made larger than M2 and M4. For example, C1 can be programmed with 1/10 the current if M3 is ten times larger in width compared to M2 and M4.

[0080] FIG. 10 shows shifting of data between two instances of the emitter cell 900. The top half of the figure shows the current paths formed during phase 1. The bottom half shows the current paths formed during phase 2. The current paths are depicted in bold lines. In phase 1, current paths are formed through M1, M2, and M8 of emitter cell 900-A. As explained earlier, this causes a voltage to be stored on C1. Additionally, the same storage process occurs simultaneously in emitter cell 900-B, with the data input to M1 of emitter cell 900-B being supplied by a current generated according to a voltage previously stored on C2 of emitter cell 900-A. M7 of the emitter cell 900-A is turned on and acts as a current sink, with the voltage stored on C2 forming the gate voltage of M7. Thus, the output current of emitter cell 900-A (and the input current of emitter cell 900-B) is the same as the current that was previously used to program C2 of emitter cell 900-A. In this manner, data that was previously used to drive emitter cell 900-A is shifted into emitter cell 900-B.

[0081] In phase 2, the emitter of emitter cell 900-A is activated according to the voltage previously stored on C1 of emitter cell 900-A during phase 1, using a drive current through M3. The emitter will be activated provided that there is a current path through the common cathode (e.g., if the common cathode is grounded and not left floating). Additionally, the voltage of C1 is transferred into C2 of emitter cell 900-A through mirroring of the drive current into M4 and M5 of emitter cell 900-A. The same process occurs simultaneously in emitter cell 900-B, with the emitter of emitter cell 900-B being driven according to the voltage stored on C1 of emitter cell 900-B (i.e., the voltage that was transferred from C2 of emitter cell 900-A during phase 1).

[0082] FIG. 11 shows an emitter layout with phantom emitters (also referred to as dummy emitters), for implementing one or more embodiments. The layout comprises rows of emitters that are offset from adjacent rows above and below so that there is an unoccupied space between emitters. For example, the horizontal distance 1110 between the center of an emitter 1112 in one column to the center of an emitter 1112 in an adjacent column could be longer than the vertical distance 1120 between the centers of emitters in adjacent rows (e.g., 6 microns versus 4.5 microns). These unoccupied spaces correspond to locations of phantom emitters. In some embodiments, phantom emitters can be formed as physical emitters that remain unused. Although the phantom emitters do not generate light, their presence can be accounted for when shifting data between emitters. For example, if data is to be shifted from emitter 1112-A to emitter 1112-B, the data can be shifted after one row time of delay since there is a phantom emitter separating the emitters 1112-A and 1112-B. This delayed shifting was described earlier in connection with FIGS. 4A to 4E. As will now be explained, data shifting arrangements may be provided to accommodate the presence of phantom emitters, using data storage circuits that are configured to temporarily store data for phantom emitters. Such data storage circuits are referred to herein as phantom cells.

[0083] FIG. 12 shows an analog phantom cell 1200, in accordance with an embodiment. The phantom cell 1200 is identical to the emitter cell 900 of FIG. 9, except that the phantom cell 1200 does not include an emitter, and therefore also does not include a transistor M3 for driving the emitter. The phantom cell 1200 can be operated in a similar manner to the emitter cell 900. In particular, during phase 1, O.sub.1 can be asserted to turn on transistors M1 and M8 to cause an input current “In” to be stored as a voltage onto capacitor C1. Then, during phase 2, O.sub.2 can be asserted to turn on transistors M5 and M6 while applying the voltage stored on C1 as a gate voltage onto M4, thereby causing a corresponding voltage to be stored on capacitor C2. The phantom cell 1200 can be connected between two emitter cells (e.g., two instances of emitter cell 900, as shown in FIG. 13) so that the capacitor C2 of the phantom cell 1200 operates as a temporary storage for data being shifted from one emitter cell to the other emitter cell.

[0084] FIG. 13 shows a circuit 1300 comprising the phantom cell 1200 connected between two instances of emitter cell 900. For simplicity, the labeling of the transistors, capacitors, and emitters has been omitted. FIG. 13 includes an example timing diagram showing the relative timings of phase 1 and phase 2. As shown, phase 1 and phase 2 are offset, with a slight delay between the end of a phase 1 pulse and the beginning of the next phase 2 pulse and vice versa.

[0085] FIG. 14 shows a circuit 1400 comprising a phantom cell 1410 connected between an emitter cell 1420-A and an emitter cell 1420-B. Like the phantom cell 1200, the phantom cell 1410 can be used to provide a one row time delay in shifting data from a first emitter cell (i.e., emitter 1420-A) to a second emitter cell (i.e., emitter cell 1420-B). The phantom cell 1410 includes a similar data storage block, with a capacitor C2 and transistors M5, M6, and M7 being analogous to C2, M5, M6, and M7 of the phantom cell 1200, respectively. However, the transistors M1 and M2 are controlled using a third timing signal O.sub.3 to implement a third phase of operation. Additionally, the phantom cell 1410 includes a pair of NMOS transistors M10 and M11. The transistors M10 and M11 are controlled on alternating portions (corresponding to timing signals O.sub.1a and O.sub.1b) of phase 1.

[0086] The emitter cells 1420 are essentially identical to emitter cell 900, except that transistors M1 and M8 are omitted. During the first portion of phase 1, O.sub.1a is asserted to activate M10 and transfer the voltage stored on C2 of emitter cell 1420-A into C1 of emitter cell 1420-B. During phase 2, O.sub.2 is asserted to internally convert, in each emitter cell, the voltage on C1 into a corresponding voltage on C2 while activating both emitters. During the second portion of phase 1, O.sub.1b is asserted to activate M11 and transfer the voltage stored on C2 of the phantom cell 1410 into C1 of the emitter cell 1420-B. During phase 3, O.sub.3 is asserted to turn on M5 and M6 and transfer the voltage stored on C1 of emitter cell 1420-A into C2 of the phantom cell 1410.

[0087] From the examples of FIGS. 10, 13, and 14, it will be understood that analog emitter cells with data shifting components can be connected together to form a chain and to shift data sequentially down the chain, with optional phantom cells placed between the emitter cells. Data shifting can be performed using various timing signals (e.g, O.sub.1, O.sub.2, and a common cathode signal). These timing signals may be generated by a display driver such as the display driver 530 of FIG. 5. Examples of digital emitter cells with data shifting components and circuits with data shifting components located outside of emitter cells are discussed below.

Digital Data Shifting

[0088] FIG. 15 shows a digital emitter cell 1500 and a digital phantom cell 1550, both with data shifting logic. The emitter cell 1500 includes a pair of PMOS transistors M1 and M2 and an emitter 1510 connected between M2 and a common cathode. The emitter cell 1500 further includes a digital shift register 1515 comprising a plurality of 1-bit shift stages 1512. Each shift stage can be formed using a set of transistors (e.g., six transistors per stage). The number of stages depends on the value to be stored. For example, an 8-bit value can be stored using eight 1-bit shift stages. The shift register 1515 operates to shift data one bit at a time through the shift stages 1512 based on a clock signal. Transistor M2 is controlled by a drive signal applied to the gate of M2. The drive signal determines the magnitude of the current flowing through M2 and thus the current through the emitter 1510. This drive signal may be derived from a current source and replicated using current mirrors for application to additional instances of the emitter cell 1500. While the magnitude of the current through emitter 1510 is determined by the drive signal, the duration of activation of the emitter 1510 is determined by the clock signal. As shown in the bottom of FIG. 15, the clock signal can be set to pulses of varying duration. The pulse durations correspond to binary encoded data values (e.g., from 2.sup.0 to 2.sup.7). Thus, the clock signal can be used to control the light output of the emitter 1510 through pulse width modulation.

[0089] The phantom cell 1550 includes a digital shift register 1555 comprising 1-bit shift stages 1552 that are analogous to the shift stages 1512 of the shift register 1515. The emitter cell 1500 can be coupled to the phantom cell 1550 by connecting the output of the shift register 1515 to the input of the shift register 1555. Similarly, the output of the shift register 1515 can be connected to the input of a shift register 1515 in another instance of emitter cell 1500 if no phantom cell is required.

[0090] FIG. 16 shows a digital emitter cell 1600 and a digital phantom cell 1650. The emitter cell 1600 and the phantom cell 1650 are latched based implementations that, in contrast to the embodiment of FIG. 15, do not include shift registers. The emitter cell 1600 includes an edge triggered latch 1612 that receives a clock signal and a data signal as inputs. The clock signal and the data signal correspond to the clock and data signals in FIG. 15, except that instead of inputting the data sequentially one bit at a time, the entire data input (e.g., an 8-bit binary value) is latched simultaneously. The latch 1612 operates to temporarily store the data input, which is then multiplexed by a 2-to-1 multiplexer 1614 onto the gate of a PMOS transistor 1616, based on select signal that selects a 1-bit value from the data stored in the latch 1612. The select signal may be a global signal that is applied to other instances of the emitter cell 1600. The phantom cell 1650 includes an edge triggered latch 1652 that receives the same clock and data input signals as the latch 1612. The phantom cell 1650 does not include a multiplexer since no emitter is driven by the data stored in the latch 1652.

Additional Data Shifting Embodiments

[0091] FIG. 17 is a simplified block diagram of a bidirectional data shifting cell 1700. The embodiments described above provide for unidirectional shifting of data from one emitter cell into the next emitter cell in a series or chain of emitter cells. In some instances, it may be desirable to permit bidirectional data shifting. To accommodate shifting in both directions, a 2-to-1 multiplexer 1710 can combined with a unidirectional shifting cell 1720 (e.g., any of the previously described emitter or phantom cells that include data shifting capabilities). The multiplexer can be controlled to select data from above (e.g., the previous emitter cell) or data from below (e.g., the next emitter cell) for shifting into the unidirectional shifting cell 1720. The shifting direction is determined by a shift direction selection signal. The output of the unidirectional shifting cell 1720 can be supplied both the previous emitter cell and the next emitter cell in order to supply data for bidirectional shifting in those cells as well.

[0092] FIG. 18 is a simplified block diagram of a display system 1800, which is an embodiment of the display system 500 in FIG. 5. The display system 1800 is an example of a system in which the data shifting components are located separately from the emitter cells. The display system 1800 includes a data shifting circuit 1810, a display driver 1820, and an emitter array 1830.

[0093] The data shifting circuit 1810 includes a plurality of shift registers 1812, each of which is assigned to an emitter cell in the emitter array 1830. For example, each shift register 1812 may be an 8-bit shift register implemented, for example, using eight 1-bit stages as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 15. As shown in FIG. 18, the emitter array 1830 can be formed of analog emitter cells such as the emitter cell 700 of FIG. 7. However, the data shifting circuit 1810 can be used in combination with any type of emitter cell, for example, the digital emitter cell of FIG. 8. For illustration purposes, the emitter array 1830 is depicted with only one row of emitter cells. The data shifting circuit 1810 further includes a plurality of shift registers 1814, each of which is assigned to a phantom cell. The shift registers 1812 and 1814 are connected in alternating fashion. Each of the shift registers 1812 and 1814 is configured to receive a data value (e.g., an 8-bit value) which is sequentially shifted through the entire chain of shift registers. The data value can be generated by a processor of the display diver 1820, which also includes circuitry for driving the emitter array 1830. The values stored in the shift registers 1812 are supplied to a multiplexer 1816, which is shown in the figure as an 8-to-1, 8-bit multiplexer that selects an 8-bit value from one of the eight shift registers 1812 for output to the display driver 1820. The selection of which shift register value to output is based on a selection signal (e.g., a 3-bit signal comprising individual signals C0, C1, and C2), which may be produced by the display driver 1820.

[0094] The display driver 1820 includes a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) 1822 and an output buffer 1824 for driving the emitter array 1830. The DAC 1822 operates to convert the digital value output from the multiplexer 1816 into an analog voltage that is input to the output buffer 1824. The output buffer is connected to an entire row of emitter cells so that the current signal produced by the output buffer 1824 can be applied as input to a particular one of the emitter cells by asserting a row selection signal (e.g., the Row Select signal in FIG. 7). The display driver 1820 controls the data shifting circuit 1810 so that the multiplexer 1816 selects an appropriate shift register 1812 for supplying the input to that particular emitter cell.

[0095] Data shifting using the circuit 1810 may involve, for example:

[0096] During a time period T1, storing a first data value into shift register 1812-A and sending the first data value as output by the shift register 1812-A through the multiplexer 1816 to drive the row 1 emitter;

[0097] During a time period T2, shifting the first data value from the shift register 1812-A into shift register 1814-A, storing a second data value into shift register 1812-A, and driving the row 1 emitter using the second data value as output by the shift register 1812-A;

[0098] During a time period T3, shifting the first data value from the shift register 1814-A into shift register 1812-B, driving the row 2 emitter using the first data value as output by the shift register 1812-B, shifting the second data value from the shift register 1812-A into shift register 1814-A, storing a third data value into shift register 1812-A, and driving the row 1 emitter using the third data value as output by the shift register 1812-A; and so on. Each column of an emitter array can be provided with its own instance of the data shifting circuit 1810 to allow for storage of data for the emitters of that column. However, some components may be shared by two or more columns (e.g., the DAC 1822 can be shared).

[0099] FIG. 19 is a simplified block diagram of an analog data shifting circuit 1900. Like the data shifting circuit 1810 of FIG. 18, the data shifting circuit 1900 is located separately from the emitter cells of an emitter array. The data shifting circuit 1900 includes a DAC 1910, a demultiplexer 1920, a multiplexer 1930, a set of write gates 1922, and a set of read gates 1932. The gates 1922 and 1932 are transmission gates. The DAC 1910 is configured to receive digital input data (e.g., an 8-bit value from a display driver) and convert the digital input into an analog representation (e.g., an analog voltage) that is input to the demultiplexer 1920.

[0100] The demultiplexer 1920 is configured to output the analog voltage to one of the write gates 1922 based on a selection signal (e.g., C0, C1, and C2). For example, the demultiplexer 1920 can be a 1-to-8 demultiplexer that is connected to eight write gates 1922, each associated with a particular emitter row. Except for the last write gate 1922-N, each write gate 1922 is operable to connect the output of the demultiplexer 1920 to the input of a corresponding 1-to-2 demultiplexer 1942. Each demultiplexer 1942 is in turn connected at its output to a 2-to-1 multiplexer 1952.

[0101] Connected between each demultiplexer-multiplexer pair 1942, 1952 is a pair of storage capacitors, each of which is operable to store an analog data value supplied by a demultiplexer 1942. The selection input of the demultiplexer 1942 determines which capacitor of the pair of storage capacitors receives the output of the demultiplexer 1942. The values stored on the capacitors can be read out using the multiplexers 1952, which are connected at their outputs to corresponding ones of the read gates 1932. The last write gate 1922-N is directly connected at its output to a read gate 1932-N, with only one storage capacitor connected in between. For a column of eight emitters, a total of fifteen data capacitors can be used to temporarily store data values for shifting into the emitters, one for each of the eight emitters and one for each seven phantom emitters connected between the emitters.

[0102] The multiplexer 1930 is configured to read the voltage stored on the data capacitors and to select (e.g., based on the same control signal used for the demultiplexer 1920) one of the stored voltages for output to the display driver (not shown). Since the voltage output by the demultiplexer is analog, no digital-to-analog conversion is required. Instead, the display driver may simply buffer the analog voltage through an output buffer and into a selected emitter in an emitter array (e.g., to a particular row in a column of emitters). As with the display system 1800, the emitters cells of the emitter array can be analog emitter cells or digital emitter cells.

[0103] Additionally, it can be seen that unlike the data shifting circuit 1810, there is no internal shifting of data within the data shifting circuit 1900. Instead, data is simply written to and read out of appropriate capacitors. At any given time, an entire column’s worth of data can be made available for selecting an appropriate analog value for driving a corresponding emitter. The data shifting circuit 1900 can be programmed by controlling the demultiplexer 1920 to store a charge onto a selected capacitor (e.g., storing Data.sub.1) while simultaneously outputting the charge from the same selected capacitor through the multiplexer 1930 to a selected emitter. This storage and driving process can be repeated for the remaining emitters of the column.

[0104] Data shifting using the circuit 1900 may involve, for example:

[0105] During a time period T1, storing Data.sub.1 on a first capacitor and using Data.sub.1 to drive the row 1 emitter;

[0106] During a time period T2, storing Data.sub.2 on a second capacitor, using Data.sub.1 to drive the row 2 emitter, and using Data.sub.2 to drive the row 1 emitter (if the row 2 emitter is a phantom emitter, then Data.sub.1 may not need to be read into the multiplexer 1930);

[0107] During a time period T3, storing Data.sub.3 on a third capacitor and using Data.sub.1, Data.sub.2, and Data.sub.3 to drive the row 3, row 2, and row 1 emitters, respectively; and so on.

After the final data value (e.g., Data’s) has been stored, a new Data.sub.1 can be stored (overwriting the previous value on the first capacitor) for driving the row 1 emitter of the same column. As with the data shifting circuit 1810, each column of an emitter array can be provided with its own instance of the data shifting circuit 1900, but some components may be shared by two or more columns (e.g., the DAC 1910).

Feedback Circuit

[0108] FIG. 20 is a simplified block diagram of a display system 2000 with feedback collection capabilities. The system 2000 includes a display driver 2010 and a driving circuit 2020. The driving circuit 2020 can be formed using any of the earlier described analog or digital emitter cells and, as shown in the figure, has a set of emitter cells 2012 arranged in an array (e.g., in the same row and column configuration as the physical emitters that are driven by the emitter cells 2012). The emitters driven by the emitter cells 2012 are connected to a common cathode 2015. For simplicity, only one emitter 2014 is shown. The display system 2000 includes data shifting components (not shown) which, as described in connection with the embodiments above, can be integrated into the emitter cells or separately located in another area of the display system. As explained previously, the emitter cells can be connected in a chain to form a column, so that data is sequentially shifted from the emitter cell in the first row to the emitter cell in the last row. Thus, the emitter 2014 may correspond to the last emitter to be driven based on a digital data value (or an analog representation thereof) supplied by the display driver 2010 for driving the emitters of a column 2017. The columns comprise emitter cells used for driving emitters of the same color. Additional columns exist for driving other color emitters, but are omitted from the figure.

[0109] The display driver 2010 is configured to independently control a pair of switches 2025 and 2027 that are connectable to the last emitter cell 2012-N of the column 2017 (e.g., column 1 of M columns). More specifically, the switches 2025 and 2027 are respectively connectable to an anode and a cathode 2015 of the emitter 2014. The cathode 2015 can be a common cathode shared by all of the columns. The switches 2025 and 2027 can be implemented as transistors (e.g., a pair of NMOS transistors). An analogous pair of switches can be provided for each remaining column in order to enable testing of those columns. Also depicted is a fictitious current source 2022 connected between the emitter 2014 and the common cathode 2015. The current source 2022 represents a bias current that is developed as a result of shifting a test value through the entire column 2017. Thus, the current source 2022 is controllable based on the test value that is input to the column. The display driver 2010 may select the test value to be any non-zero data value for which the expected feedback characteristics can be obtained by the feedback processing unit 2019.

[0110] To perform a feedback analysis, the display driver 2010 can set the common cathode 2015 to a floating voltage while maintaining the switch 2025 open and the switch 2027 closed. In this configuration, current from the current source 2022 will flow through the emitter 2014 and into a feedback path 2050. Further, if the data inputs to the remaining columns are set to zero (i.e., if the only data being shifted is the test value, and only through the column 2017) then the current through the feedback path 2050 will be indicative of whether the emitter 2014 is passing current in correct proportion to the test value.

[0111] The feedback processing unit 2019 can be implemented in hardware, software, or a combination thereof. The feedback processing unit 2019 may be configured to compare the current in the feedback path 2050 to an expected current that is associated with the test value. This expected current can, for example, be a stored reference current that was measured at a time when the column 2017 was functioning properly, i.e., a historical current. Alternatively, the expected current may be a stored value determined based on a design specification for the driving circuit 2020.

[0112] As another type of feedback analysis, the display driver 2010 can apply a voltage bias to the common cathode 2015 while maintaining the switch 2025 closed and the switch 2027 open. In this configuration, the feedback path 2050 can be used to measure the voltage developed across the emitter 2014. Thus, the feedback path 2050 can be defined based on the opened/closed configuration of the switches 2025 and 2027, depending on which electrical characteristic is of interest. Similar to the configuration for measuring a feedback current, an expected voltage can be stored for comparison to the measured voltage by the feedback processing unit 2019.

[0113] The feedback processing unit 2019 may analyze feedback to determine the overall health of the column 2017. Because the emitter cells 2012 of the column 2017 are all connected, each emitter cell in the column contributes to the measured current or measured voltage, which is therefore indicative of the performance of the column as a whole. The feedback processing unit 2019 may determine, based on the measured current/voltage value being different than the expected current/voltage, that there is a problem somewhere in the column 2017. A deviation from the expected current/voltage can be caused, for example, by a manufacturing defect, inherent variations among components having the same design specification, or performance degradation caused by aging of components. The source of the deviation can be any component in an emitter cell of the column 2017 including, for example, a transistor involved in generating the current represented by current source 2022, a storage capacitor, or an emitter. Because the measured signal is not specific to any individual emitter cell, the feedback processing unit 2019 cannot determine the exact location of the problem. Nevertheless, the display driver 2010 can be adjusted to correct the problem by, for example, increasing the data value for subsequent inputs to the column 2017 if the measured current is less than the expected current. For example, the feedback processing unit 2019 may calculate the increase by determining, based on the amount by which the measured current is lower than the expected current, that two of the emitter cells in the column are defective (e.g., based on the assumption that each emitter cell contributes equally to the measured current or voltage when every emitter cell is fully functioning). The display driver 2010 can then compensate for the current difference by increasing the data input by an amount corresponding to the current difference divided by the total number of non-defective emitter cells in the column.

[0114] Feedback analysis can be used to compensate for manufacturing defects and differences in device tolerances of the various electrical components that make up the driving circuit 2020. Feedback analysis can also be performed occasionally throughout the life of the display system 2000. For example, the display driver 2010 can be configured to automatically perform feedback analysis at regular intervals in order to monitor the health of the driving circuit 2020. Feedback can be collected while the display is being scanned to produce an output image for viewing by a user. Feedback can also be collected without producing an output image (e.g., shifting a test value through one or more columns while the scanning assembly is kept stationary). Performance degradations due to aging of components in the driving circuit 2020 (including aging of the physical emitters) can therefore be timely detected and compensated for.

[0115] In some embodiments, there are multiple pairs of switches in a column. For example, each emitter can be connectable to a respective pair of switches, each pair of switches being connected to a separate feedback path to enable measurements specific to the emitter cell that drives that particular emitter. However, it is generally unnecessary to obtain precise information on which particular emitter cell has a problem when the contributions of the emitter cells are aggregated, e.g., by shifting data through an entire column in accordance with the embodiments described earlier.

[0116] FIG. 21 is a flowchart of a method 2100 for calibrating a driving circuit. The method 2100 can be performed using the display system 2000. At step 2110, a data value is shifted through a single row or column of emitter cells. The data value can be any non-zero value. The display driver 2010 may select the data value from a set of historical or programmed data values that are stored in a memory. For example, the data value could be stored in a table that maps the data value to an expected current or voltage. The remaining rows or columns are set to zero while the data value is shifted.

[0117] At step 2120, the display driver 2010 configures a feedback path leading from the last emitter of the row/column through which the data value was shifted in step 2110. The display driver 2010 may configure the feedback path by selectively opening or closing a pair of switches that are connectable to the last emitter. As explained above in connection with FIG. 20, the open/closed configuration of the switches can be used to perform a particular type of measurement (e.g., a measurement of a current or a measurement of a voltage).

[0118] At step 2130, the feedback processing unit of the display driver 2010 measures a signal received through the feedback path. The measurement process may include storing a representation of the measured signal (e.g., converting a measured current into a digital value using an analog-to-digital converter or storing the measured current as a voltage on a capacitor).

[0119] At step 2140, the feedback processing unit compares the value of the measured signal to the expected value. The comparison may involve performing one or more computations (e.g., subtracting one value from the other to determine the difference between the two values). In some embodiments, the comparison is performed using a general purpose processor (e.g., a central processing unit of a computer). In other embodiments, the comparison is performed using dedicated circuitry (e.g., an analog comparator).

[0120] At step 2150, future data output of the display driver 2010 is adjusted according to the difference between the two values. For example, as explained earlier, the value of data subsequently shifted into the same row/column can be increased by an amount calculated based on the difference between the measured and expected values, and further based on the assumption that the emitter cells contribute equally to measured current or voltage when all the emitter cells of the row/column are fully functional. The feedback processing unit may determine, based on the difference between the two values, how many emitter cells are defective and may set the increase based on the number of emitter cells that are non-defective. For example, if the measured current is less than the expected current by 200 micro-amps and there are five non-defective emitter cells, subsequent inputs to the row/column can be increased by a data value that results in application of an additional 40 micro-amps. Since the data value is shifted through each emitter cell in the row/column, the total additional current generated will be 5.times.40 micro-amps or 200 micro-amps. The data value can be similarly decreased if needed.

[0121] The foregoing description of the embodiments of the disclosure has been presented for the purpose of illustration; it is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the disclosure to the precise forms disclosed. Persons skilled in the relevant art can appreciate that many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above disclosure.

[0122] Some portions of this description describe the embodiments of the disclosure in terms of algorithms and symbolic representations of operations on information. These algorithmic descriptions and representations are commonly used by those skilled in the data processing arts to convey the substance of their work effectively to others skilled in the art. These operations, while described functionally, computationally, or logically, are understood to be implemented by computer programs or equivalent electrical circuits, microcode, or the like. Furthermore, it has also proven convenient at times, to refer to these arrangements of operations as modules, without loss of generality. The described operations and their associated modules may be embodied in software, firmware, and/or hardware.

[0123] Steps, operations, or processes described may be performed or implemented with one or more hardware or software modules, alone or in combination with other devices. Although the steps, operations, or processes are described in sequence, it will be understood that in some embodiments the sequence order may differ from that which has been described, for example with certain steps, operations, or processes being omitted or performed in parallel or concurrently. In some embodiments, a software module is implemented with a computer program product comprising a computer-readable medium containing computer program code, which can be executed by one or more computer processors for performing any or all of the steps, operations, or processes described.

[0124] Embodiments of the disclosure may also relate to an apparatus for performing the operations described. The apparatus may be specially constructed for the required purposes, and/or it may comprise a general-purpose computing device selectively activated or reconfigured by a computer program stored in the computer. Such a computer program may be stored in a non-transitory, tangible computer readable storage medium, or any type of media suitable for storing electronic instructions, which may be coupled to a computer system bus. Furthermore, any computing systems referred to in the specification may include a single processor or may be architectures employing multiple processor designs for increased computing capability.

[0125] The language used in the specification has been principally selected for readability and instructional purposes, and it may not have been selected to delineate or circumscribe the inventive subject matter. It is therefore intended that the scope of the disclosure be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by any claims that issue on an application based hereon. Accordingly, the disclosure of the embodiments is intended to be illustrative, but not limiting, of the scope of the disclosure, which is set forth in the following claims.

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