Disclosed herein are transparent color displays with nanoparticles made with nonlinear materials and/or designed to exhibit optical resonances. These nanoparticles are embedded in or hosted on a transparent substrate, such as a flexible piece of clear plastic or acrylic. Illuminating the nanoparticles with invisible light (e.g., infrared or ultraviolet light) causes them to emit visible light. For example, a rare-earth doped nanoparticle may emit visible light when illuminated simultaneoulsy with a first infrared beam at a first wavelength .lamda..sub.1 and a second infrared beam at a second wavelength .lamda..sub.2. And a frequency-doubling nanoparticle may emit visible light when illuminated with a single infrared beam at the nanoparticle's resonant frequency. Selectively addressing these nanoparticles with appropiately selected pump beams yields visible light emitted from the nanoparticles hosted by the transparent substrate in a desired pattern.
This invention was made with government support under Grant No. DMR0819762 awarded by the National Science Foundation and under Contract No. W911NF-07-D-0004 awarded by the Army Research Office and under Grant Nos. DE-SC0001299 and DE-FG02-09ER46577 awarded by the Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.