LCD (LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY)
By Muhammad Shoaib Khan
Short for liquid crystal display, a type of display used in digital watches and many portable computers. LCD displays utilize two sheets of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them. An electric current passed through the liquid causes the crystals to align so that light cannot pass through them. Each crystal, therefore, is like a shutter, either allowing light to pass through or blocking the light.
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"LCD" redirects here. For other uses, see LCD (disambiguation).
|It has been suggested that Optical film be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since November 2013.|
A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat panel display, electronic visual display, or video display that uses the light modulating properties of liquid crystals. Liquid crystals do not emit light directly.
LCDs are available to display arbitrary images (as in a general-purpose computer display) or fixed images which can be displayed or hidden, such as preset words, digits, and 7-segment displays as in a digital clock. They use the same basic technology, except that arbitrary images are made up of a large number of small pixels, while other displays have larger elements.
LCDs are used in a wide range of applications including computer monitors, televisions, instrument panels, aircraft cockpit displays, and signage. They are common in consumer devices such as video players, gaming devices, clocks, watches, calculators, and telephones, and have replaced cathode ray tube (CRT) displays in most applications. They are available in a wider range of screen sizes than CRT and plasma displays, and since they do not use phosphors, they do not suffer image burn-in. LCDs are, however, susceptible to image persistence.
The LCD screen is more energy efficient and can be disposed of more safely than a CRT. Its low electrical power consumption enables it to be used inbattery-powered electronic equipment. It is an electronically modulated optical device made up of any number of segments filled with liquid crystals and arrayed in front of a light source (backlight) or reflector to produce images in color or monochrome. Liquid crystals were first discovered in 1888. By 2008, annual sales of televisions with LCD screens exceeded sales of CRT units worldwide, and the CRT became obsolescent for most purposes.
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Each pixel of an LCD typically consists of a layer of molecules aligned between two transparent electrodes, and two polarizing filters (parallel and perpendicular), the axes of transmission of which are (in most of the cases) perpendicular to each other. Without the liquid crystal between the polarizing filters, light passing through the first filter would be blocked by the second (crossed) polarizer.
Before an electric field is applied, the orientation of the liquid-crystal molecules is determined by the alignment at the surfaces of electrodes. In a twisted nematic device (still the most common liquid-crystal device), the surface alignment directions at the two electrodes are perpendicular to each other, and so the molecules arrange themselves in a helical structure, or twist. This induces the rotation of the polarization of the incident light, and the device appears gray. If the applied voltage is large enough, the liquid crystal molecules in the center of the layer are almost completely untwisted and the polarization of the incident light is not rotated as it passes through the liquid crystal layer. This light will then be mainly polarized perpendicular to the second filter, and thus be blocked and the pixel will appear black. By controlling the voltage applied across the liquid crystal layer in each pixel, light can be allowed to pass through in varying amounts thus constituting different levels of gray.
The optical effect of a twisted nematic device in the voltage-on state is far less dependent on variations in the device thickness than that in the voltage-off state. Because of this, these devices are usually operated between crossed polarizers such that they appear bright with no voltage (the eye is much more sensitive to variations in the dark state than the bright state). These devices can also be operated between parallel polarizers, in which case the bright and dark states are reversed. The voltage-off dark state in this configuration appears blotchy, however, because of small variations of thickness across the device.
Both the liquid crystal material and the alignment layer material contain ionic compounds. If an electric field of one particular polarity is applied for a long period of time, this ionic material is attracted to the surfaces and degrades the device performance. This is avoided either by applying an alternating current or by reversing the polarity of the electric field as the device is addressed (the response of the liquid crystal layer is identical, regardless of the polarity of the applied field).
Displays for a small number of individual digits and/or fixed symbols (as in digital watches and pocket calculators) can be implemented with independent electrodes for each segment. In contrast full alphanumeric and/or variable graphics displays are usually implemented with pixels arranged as a matrix consisting of electrically connected rows on one side of the LC layer and columns on the other side, which makes it possible to address each pixel at the intersections. The general method of matrix addressing consists of sequentially addressing one side of the matrix, for example by selecting the rows one-by-one and applying the picture information on the other side at the columns row-by-row. For details on the various matrix addressing schemes see Passive-matrix and active-matrix addressed LCDs.