Another ongoing area of research is to use materials that optically route light in order to re-use as much of the signal as possible. One potential improvement is to use microprisms or dichromic mirrors to split the light into R, G and B, instead of absorbing the unwanted colors in a filter. A successful system would improve efficiency by three times. Another would be to direct the light that would normally fall on opaque elements back into the transparent portion of the shutters. A number of companies are actively researching a variety of approaches, and 3M currently sells several products that route leaked light back toward the front of the screen.
Several newer technologies, OLED, FED and SED, have lower power use as one of their primary advantages. All of these technologies directly produce light on a sub-pixel basis, and use only as much power as that light level requires. Sony has demonstrated 36" FED units displaying very bright images drawing only 14 W, less than 1/10 as much as a similarly sized LCD. OLEDs and SEDs are similar to FEDs in power terms. The dramatically lower power requirements make these technologies particularly interesting in low-power uses like laptop computers and mobile phones. These sorts of devices were the market that originally bootstrapped LCD technology, due to its light weight and thinness.
Sharp Aquos 80