A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat-panel display or other electronically modulated optical device that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals combined with polarizers. Liquid crystals do not emit light directly but instead use a backlight or reflector to produce images in color or monochrome. LCDs are available to display arbitrary images (as in a general-purpose computer display) or fixed images with low information content, which can be displayed or hidden. For instance: preset words, digits, and seven-segment displays, as in a digital clock, are all good examples of devices with these displays. They use the same basic technology, except that arbitrary images are made from a matrix of small pixels, while other displays have larger elements. LCDs can either be normally on (positive) or off (negative), depending on the polarizer arrangement. For example, a character positive LCD with a backlight will have black lettering on a background that is the color of the backlight, and a character negative LCD will have a black background with the letters being of the same color as the backlight. Optical filters are added to white on blue LCDs to give them their characteristic appearance. LCDs are used in a wide range of applications, including LCD televisions, computer monitors, instrument panels, aircraft cockpit displays, and indoor and outdoor signage. Small LCD screens are common in LCD projectors and portable consumer devices such as digital cameras, watches, calculators, and mobile telephones, including smartphones. LCD screens have replaced heavy, bulky and less energy-efficient cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays in nearly all applications. The phosphors used in CRTs make them vulnerable to image burn-in when a static image is displayed on a screen for a long time, e.g., the table frame for an airline flight schedule on an indoor sign. LCDs do not have this weakness, but are still susceptible to image persistence. General characteristics An LCD screen used as a notification panel for travellersEach pixel of an LCD typically consists of a layer of molecules aligned between two transparent electrodes, often made of Indium-Tin oxide (ITO) and two polarizing filters (parallel and perpendicular polarizers), 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 (TN) 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 chemical formula of the liquid crystals used in LCDs may vary. Formulas may be patented. An example is a mixture of 2-(4-alkoxyphenyl)-5-alkylpyrimidine with cyanobiphenyl, patented by Merck and Sharp Corporation. The patent that covered that specific mixture expired. Most color LCD systems use the same technique, with color filters used to generate red, green, and blue subpixels. The LCD color filters are made with a photolithography process on large glass sheets that are later glued with other glass sheets containing a TFT array, spacers and liquid crystal, creating several color LCDs that are then cut from one another and laminated with polarizer sheets. Red, green, blue and black photoresists (resists) are used. All resists contain a finely ground powdered pigment, with particles being just 40 nanometers across. The black resist is the first to be applied; this will create a black grid (known in the industry as a black matrix) that will separate red, green and blue subpixels from one another, increasing contrast ratios and preventing light from leaking from one subpixel onto other surrounding subpixels. After the black resist has been dried in an oven and exposed to UV light through a photomask, the unexposed areas are washed away, creating a black grid. Then the same process is repeated with the remaining resists. This fills the holes in the black grid with their corresponding colored resists. Another color-generation method used in early color PDAs and some calculators was done by varying the voltage in a Super-twisted nematic LCD, where the variable twist between tighter-spaced plates causes a varying double refraction birefringence, thus changing the hue. They were typically restricted to 3 colors per pixel: orange, green, and blue. The optical effect of a TN 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, TN displays with low information content and no backlighting 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). As most of 2010-era LCDs are used in television sets, monitors and smartphones, they have high-resolution matrix arrays of pixels to display arbitrary images using backlighting with a dark background. When no image is displayed, different arrangements are used. For this purpose, TN LCDs are operated between parallel polarizers, whereas IPS LCDs feature crossed polarizers. In many applications IPS LCDs have replaced TN LCDs, particularly in smartphones. 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). A Casio Alarm Chrono digital watch with LCDDisplays for a small number of individual digits or fixed symbols (as in digital watches and pocket calculators) can be implemented with independent electrodes for each segment. In contrast, full alphanumeric 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. LCD-Glass-sizes-generationLCDs are manufactured in cleanrooms borrowing techniques from semiconductor manufacturing and using large sheets of glass whose size has increased over time. Several displays are manufactured at the same time, and then cut from the sheet of glass, also known as the mother glass or LCD glass substrate. The increase in size allows more displays or larger displays to be made, just like with increasing wafer sizes in semiconductor manufacturing. The glass sizes are as follows: Until Gen 8, manufacturers would not agree on a single mother glass size and as a result, different manufacturers would use slightly different glass sizes for the same generation. Some manufacturers have adopted Gen 8.6 mother glass sheets which are only slightly larger than Gen 8.5, allowing for more 50 and 58 inch LCDs to be made per mother glass, specially 58 inch LCDs, in which case 6 can be produced on a Gen 8.6 mother glass vs only 3 on a Gen 8.5 mother glass, significantly reducing waste. The thickness of the mother glass also increases with each generation, so larger mother glass sizes are better suited for larger displays. An LCD Module (LCM) is a ready-to-use LCD with a backlight. Thus, a factory that makes LCD Modules does not necessarily make LCDs, it may only assemble them into the modules. LCD glass substrates are made by companies such as AGC Inc., Corning Inc., and Nippon Electric Glass. History HistoryThe origins and the complex history of liquid-crystal displays from the perspective of an insider during the early days were described by Joseph A. Castellano in Liquid Gold: The Story of Liquid Crystal Displays and the Creation of an Industry. Another report on the origins and history of LCD from a different perspective until 1991 has been published by Hiroshi Kawamoto, available at the IEEE History Center. A description of Swiss contributions to LCD developments, written by Peter J. Wild, can be found at the Engineering and Technology History Wiki. BackgroundMain articles: Liquid crystal and Thin-film transistorIn 1888, Friedrich Reinitzer (1858–1927) discovered the liquid crystalline nature of cholesterol extracted from carrots (that is, two melting points and generation of colors) and published his findings at a meeting of the Vienna Chemical Society on May 3, 1888 (F. Reinitzer: Beiträge zur Kenntniss des Cholesterins, Monatshefte für Chemie (Wien) 9, 421–441 (1888)). In 1904, Otto Lehmann published his work “Flüssige Kristalle” (Liquid Crystals). In 1911, Charles Mauguin first experimented with liquid crystals confined between plates in thin layers. In 1922, Georges Friedel described the structure and properties of liquid crystals and classified them in three types (nematics, smectics and cholesterics). In 1927, Vsevolod Frederiks devised the electrically switched light valve, called the Fréedericksz transition, the essential effect of all LCD technology. In 1936, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph company patented the first practical application of the technology, “The Liquid Crystal Light Valve”. In 1962, the first major English language publication Molecular Structure and Properties of Liquid Crystals was published by Dr. George W. Gray. In 1962, Richard Williams of RCA found that liquid crystals had some interesting electro-optic characteristics and he realized an electro-optical effect by generating stripe-patterns in a thin layer of liquid crystal material by the application of a voltage. This effect is based on an electro-hydrodynamic instability forming what are now called “Williams domains” inside the liquid crystal. Building on early MOSFETs, Paul K. Weimer at RCA developed the thin-film transistor (TFT) in 1962. It was a type of MOSFET distinct from the standard bulk MOSFET. 1960sIn 1964, George H. Heilmeier, then working at the RCA laboratories on the effect discovered by Williams achieved the switching of colors by field-induced realignment of dichroic dyes in a homeotropically oriented liquid crystal. Practical problems with this new electro-optical effect made Heilmeier continue to work on scattering effects in liquid crystals and finally the achievement of the first operational liquid-crystal display based on what he called the dynamic scattering mode (DSM). Application of a voltage to a DSM display switches the initially clear transparent liquid crystal layer into a milky turbid state. DSM displays could be operated in transmissive and in reflective mode but they required a considerable current to flow for their operation. George H. Heilmeier was inducted in the National Inventors Hall of Fame and credited with the invention of LCDs. Heilmeier’s work is an IEEE Milestone. In the late 1960s, pioneering work on liquid crystals was undertaken by the UK’s Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern, England. The team at RRE supported ongoing work by George William Gray and his team at the University of Hull who ultimately discovered the cyanobiphenyl liquid crystals, which had correct stability and temperature properties for application in LCDs. The idea of a TFT-based liquid-crystal display (LCD) was conceived by Bernard Lechner of RCA Laboratories in 1968. Lechner, F.J. Marlowe, E.O. Nester and J. Tults demonstrated the concept in 1968 with an 18×2 matrix dynamic scattering mode (DSM) LCD that used standard discrete MOSFETs. 1970sOn December 4, 1970, the twisted nematic field effect (TN) in liquid crystals was filed for patent by Hoffmann-LaRoche in Switzerland, (Swiss patent No. 532 261) with Wolfgang Helfrich and Martin Schadt (then working for the Central Research Laboratories) listed as inventors. Hoffmann-La Roche licensed the invention to Swiss manufacturer Brown, Boveri & Cie, its joint venture partner at that time, which produced TN displays for wristwatches and other applications during the 1970s for the international markets including the Japanese electronics industry, which soon produced the first digital quartz wristwatches with TN-LCDs and numerous other products. James Fergason, while working with Sardari Arora and Alfred Saupe at Kent State University Liquid Crystal Institute, filed an identical patent in the United States on April 22, 1971. In 1971, the company of Fergason, ILIXCO (now LXD Incorporated), produced LCDs based on the TN-effect, which soon superseded the poor-quality DSM types due to improvements of lower operating voltages and lower power consumption. Tetsuro Hama and Izuhiko Nishimura of Seiko received a US patent dated February 1971, for an electronic wristwatch incorporating a TN-LCD. In 1972, the first wristwatch with TN-LCD was launched on the market: The Gruen Teletime which was a four digit display watch. In 1972, the concept of the active-matrix thin-film transistor (TFT) liquid-crystal display panel was prototyped in the United States by T. Peter Brody’s team at Westinghouse, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1973, Brody, J. A. Asars and G. D. Dixon at Westinghouse Research Laboratories demonstrated the first thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT LCD). As of 2013, all modern high-resolution and high-quality electronic visual display devices use TFT-based active matrix displays. Brody and Fang-Chen Luo demonstrated the first flat active-matrix liquid-crystal display (AM LCD) in 1974, and then Brody coined the term “active matrix” in 1975. In 1972 North American Rockwell Microelectronics Corp introduced the use of DSM LCDs for calculators for marketing by Lloyds Electronics Inc, though these required an internal light source for illumination. Sharp Corporation followed with DSM LCDs for pocket-sized calculators in 1973 and then mass-produced TN LCDs for watches in 1975. Other Japanese companies soon took a leading position in the wristwatch market, like Seiko and its first 6-digit TN-LCD quartz wristwatch, and Casio’s ‘Casiotron’. Color LCDs based on Guest-Host interaction were invented by a team at RCA in 1968. A particular type of such a color LCD was developed by Japan’s Sharp Corporation in the 1970s, receiving patents for their inventions, such as a patent by Shinji Kato and Takaaki Miyazaki in May 1975, and then improved by Fumiaki Funada and Masataka Matsuura in December 1975. TFT LCDs similar to the prototypes developed by a Westinghouse team in 1972 were patented in 1976 by a team at Sharp consisting of Fumiaki Funada, Masataka Matsuura, and Tomio Wada, then improved in 1977 by a Sharp team consisting of Kohei Kishi, Hirosaku Nonomura, Keiichiro Shimizu, and Tomio Wada. However, these TFT-LCDs were not yet ready for use in products, as problems with the materials for the TFTs were not yet solved. 1980sIn 1983, researchers at Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) Research Center, Switzerland, invented the super-twisted nematic (STN) structure for passive matrix-addressed LCDs. H. Amstutz et al. were listed as inventors in the corresponding patent applications filed in Switzerland on July 7, 1983, and October 28, 1983. Patents were granted in Switzerland CH 665491, Europe EP 0131216, U.S. Patent 4,634,229 and many more countries. In 1980, Brown Boveri started a 50/50 joint venture with the Dutch Philips company, called Videlec. Philips had the required know-how to design and build integrated circuits for the control of large LCD panels. In addition, Philips had better access to markets for electronic components and intended to use LCDs in new product generations of hi-fi, video equipment and telephones. In 1984, Philips researchers Theodorus Welzen and Adrianus de Vaan invented a video speed-drive scheme that solved the slow response time of STN-LCDs, enabling high-resolution, high-quality, and smooth-moving video images on STN-LCDs. In 1985, Philips inventors Theodorus Welzen and Adrianus de Vaan solved the problem of driving high-resolution STN-LCDs using low-voltage (CMOS-based) drive electronics, allowing the application of high-quality (high resolution and video speed) LCD panels in battery-operated portable products like notebook computers and mobile phones. In 1985, Philips acquired 100% of the Videlec AG company based in Switzerland. Afterwards, Philips moved the Videlec production lines to the Netherlands. Years later, Philips successfully produced and marketed complete modules (consisting of the LCD screen, microphone, speakers etc.) in high-volume production for the booming mobile phone industry. The first color LCD televisions were developed as handheld televisions in Japan. In 1980, Hattori Seiko’s R&D group began development on color LCD pocket televisions. In 1982, Seiko Epson released the first LCD television, the Epson TV Watch, a wristwatch equipped with a small active-matrix LCD television. Sharp Corporation introduced dot matrix TN-LCD in 1983. In 1984, Epson released the ET-10, the first full-color, pocket LCD television. The same year, Citizen Watch, introduced the Citizen Pocket TV, a 2.7-inch color LCD TV, with the first commercial TFT LCD. In 1988, Sharp demonstrated a 14-inch, active-matrix, full-color, full-motion TFT-LCD. This led to Japan launching an LCD industry, which developed large-size LCDs, including TFT computer monitors and LCD televisions. Epson developed the 3LCD projection technology in the 1980s, and licensed it for use in projectors in 1988. Epson’s VPJ-700, released in January 1989, was the world’s first compact, full-color LCD projector. 1990sIn 1990, under different titles, inventors conceived electro optical effects as alternatives to twisted nematic field effect LCDs (TN- and STN- LCDs). One approach was to use interdigital electrodes on one glass substrate only to produce an electric field essentially parallel to the glass substrates. To take full advantage of the properties of this In Plane Switching (IPS) technology further work was needed. After thorough analysis, details of advantageous embodiments are filed in Germany by Guenter Baur et al. and patented in various countries. The Fraunhofer Institute ISE in Freiburg, where the inventors worked, assigns these patents to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, a supplier of LC substances. In 1992, shortly thereafter, engineers at Hitachi work out various practical details of the IPS technology to interconnect the thin-film transistor array as a matrix and to avoid undesirable stray fields in between pixels. Hitachi also improved the viewing angle dependence further by optimizing the shape of the electrodes (Super IPS). NEC and Hitachi become early manufacturers of active-matrix addressed LCDs based on the IPS technology. This is a milestone for implementing large-screen LCDs having acceptable visual performance for flat-panel computer monitors and television screens. In 1996, Samsung developed the optical patterning technique that enables multi-domain LCD. Multi-domain and In Plane Switching subsequently remain the dominant LCD designs through 2006. In the late 1990s, the LCD industry began shifting away from Japan, towards South Korea and Taiwan, and later on towards China. 2000s–2010sIn 2007 the image quality of LCD televisions surpassed the image quality of cathode-ray-tube-based (CRT) TVs. In the fourth quarter of 2007, LCD televisions surpassed CRT TVs in worldwide sales for the first time. LCD TVs were projected to account 50% of the 200 million TVs to be shipped globally in 2006, according to Displaybank. In October 2011, Toshiba announced 2560 × 1600 pixels on a 6.1-inch (155 mm) LCD panel, suitable for use in a tablet computer, especially for Chinese character display. The 2010s also saw the wide adoption of TGP (Tracking Gate-line in Pixel), which moves the driving circuitry from the borders of the display to in between the pixels, allowing for narrow bezels. In 2016, Panasonic developed IPS LCDs with a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, rivaling OLEDs. This technology was later put into mass production as dual layer, dual panel or LMCL (Light Modulating Cell Layer) LCDs. The technology uses 2 liquid crystal layers instead of one, and may be used along with a mini-LED backlight and quantum dot sheets.