The Inner Workings of the Nook’s GlowLight

 We just had to sneak a peek into Barnes & Noble’s GlowLight technology. And what better way to accomplish this than through a proper teardown? Although the tech seemed super-simple at first — just some inexpensive LEDs on top of the screen — we knew there had to be more stuff packed inside in order to evenly light the screen. So, how did B&N do it?

The glass in the display assembly includes a diffraction grating that disperses the light from the Nook’s eight LEDs to achieve even distribution. Barnes & Noble must have spent a good amount of time optimizing this diffraction surface for the uniform lighting, which is why they have kept the technology in-house and are filing for a patent.

And how do we know it’s a diffraction grating?

With our favorite distraction around the office — lasers. We took a laser and beamed it through the glass panel onto a wall. Unlike the light of the white LEDs found on the Nook, the green laser beam (which is all the same wavelength), was split into the diffraction pattern shown below. If no diffraction grating was present in the screen, the laser beam would be projected as a singular dot on the wall.

LED light in the Nook GlowLight

Besides uncovering the magic of GlowLight, we found this device to be quite similar to the older Simple Touch. The motherboard looks almost identical, save a connector for the GlowLight LEDs. The other noticeable difference is a frame made out of magnesium, as opposed to the aluminum plate found in the non-lit Simple Touch. (We verified this magnesium claim the hard way, apparently not having learned our lesson from last time.