What You Should Know About LCD Technology

LCD, or liquid crystal display, has changed the way we think about our everyday flat-panel devices—take, for example, our laptops, phones, and TVs. Over the years, LCD replaced the technology that powered older electronics, as it offers numerous benefits. Not only is it light and thin, but it also produces impressive images without consuming a ton of power. We want to emphasize its impact, so we created a brief guide that details what you should know about LCD technology.

When Did It Rise in Popularity?

Although liquid crystals seem like a recent development, they’ve been around since the late 1800s, and Austrian scientist Friedrich Reinitzer first discovered them. He made this discovery completely by accident, but it paved the way for future pioneers in the 20th century. The military found the technology useful, and it quickly took the world by storm.

How It Works

Liquid crystals are molecules in between a solid and liquid state. When electricity triggers the liquid crystals, they’ll open or close. Multiple liquid crystals form arrangements that turn into pixels. The pixels have two polarizing glass filters, one behind them and one in front of them. When they open and close, or twist and untwist, the crystals’ movement changes the angle at which light comes through the filters. As the liquid crystal structure rotates, it can block polarized light or reflect red, green, or blue light. This is how displays can turn their pixels “on” and “off”, thus creating a full color display between two glass panels.

 To ensure their products meet lighting requirements, companies should have their devices undergo display testing. Generally, this process entails using a spectroradiometer to measure a display’s color and luminance.

How LCDs Differ from LEDs and OLEDs

Today, LED and OLED products compete against LCD technology. LCD technologies can produce sharp images much like LED and OLED; however, LCDs surprisingly don’t emit light on their own. Instead, they can control how much light passes through them. In most cases, LCD devices will have a backlight or will reflect light from external sources. You may also notice a difference in response time between these different technologies. The pixels in LCD devices will change colors at different speeds than LED or OLED products. Finally, screen brightness will vary; brightness is measured in NITs or candelas, and the higher the device’s NITs, the brighter the screen. LCD products often have fewer NITs than LED and OLED displays.