You may not know what a digital micromirror device is, but a night out to see the newest Marvel movie wouldn’t be the same without it.
Larry Hornbeck, a Case Western Reserve alumnus, invented the digital micromirror device in 1987 after tireless efforts over the course of a decade to create analog micromirrors, where an operator controls the angle of the mirrors manually through the applied voltage.
Eventually, Hornbeck conceived a device comprising up to 2 million microscopic aluminum mirrors, all hinged together on a silicon chip under digital control.
The mirrors tilt and shift thousands of times a second, directing pulses of digital light through a projection lens to create an image on displays such as television sets and theater screens.
Hornbeck’s contribution to the big screen awarded him an honor the other inventors on this list missed out on: an Emmy, given for “outstanding achievement in engineering development for Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) technology” in 1998.
Why It Matters: Movie projectors, whether in a home setup or a theater, rely on DMD technology to provide the movie experience we all know and love.