How Do LCD Screens Work?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Liquid Crystal Display technology has been around for decades. Digital watches and calculators use the ability of the crystals to become opaque when receiving electricity to display information in a small format. The crystalline compound is transparent when no electricity is applied. Stepping up to something like an LCD TV uses essentially the same technology, just applied on a larger scale. Each pixel on an LCD display is made up of three individual crystals: a red, a green and a blue one. Then, depending on how much electricity is applied to each crystal it will block some or all of the light passing through it.

Imagine shining a flashlight through colored plastic and layering different colors on top of each other. The different amounts of red, green and blue give all the possible colors you can see on your TV screen. One of the key things about LCD technology is that the crystals don’t produce any light of their own, rather they rely on a backlight to shine through and produce the image. Because of this when a typical LCD has the backlight turned up for high brightness you can lose out on the deep blacks in the color spectrum since each black pixel is actually an LCD electrified to be opaque. In order to compare how black the blacks are on a TV compared to bright whites the industry has started talking about a contrast ratio. The larger the ratio, the bigger the difference between the brightness of white pixels and the darkness of black pixels. In order to make the best LCD screens in the world, Runco has applied a coating technology known as Acute Contrast Enhancement which triples the contrast ratio.

Another issue that plagues typical LCD screens is their visibility in bright light. If you can remember the last time you took your laptop computer outside, you’ll know how easy it can be for an LCD display to get washed out with a lot of ambient light. Since the crystals become opaque they can start reflecting the ambient light which competes with the backlight coming from the display itself. The result is you can’t see what you’re watching. Runco believes that you should be able to see your TV any time of the day or night, so they developed Ambient Light-Rejection which cuts down ambient light reflecting off of the LCD pixels by 20 times. Less light hitting the pixels means a sharper, easier-to-see picture for you.

The way that the liquid crystals work is by being suspended between two layers of glass and then a thin-film transistor supplies the electrical current to the crystals. That’s great for the technology, but glass is fragile and most TVs live in a high traffic area. To protect the precious crystals, Runco created Impact, Shake and Shock Protection which keeps out dust and protects the screen from the bumps and bruises of everyday life.

Together these enhancements to flat panel display technology are known as OPAL and they help make good LCD displays into the world’s finest.

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