Learning Resources

Liquid Crystal Displays or LCDs

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 is more energy efficient and can be disposed of more safely than a CRT. Its low electrical power consumption enables it to be used in battery-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 developed in 1888. By 2008, worldwide sales of televisions with LCD screens exceeded annual sales of CRT units; the CRT became obsolete for most purposes.

An  image -

Reflective twisted nematic liquid crystal display.

  1. Polarizing filter film with a vertical axis to polarize light as it enters.
  2. Glass substrate with ITO electrodes. The shapes of these electrodes will determine the shapes that will appear when the LCD is turned ON. Vertical ridges etched on the surface are smooth.
  3. Twisted nematic liquid crystal.
  4. Glass substrate with common electrode film (ITO) with horizontal ridges to line up with the horizontal filter.
  5. Polarizing filter film with a horizontal axis to block/pass light.
  6. Reflective surface to send light back to viewer. (In a backlit LCD, this layer is replaced with a light source.)