Liquid Crystal Display

The technology behind LCD's started as far back as 1888 by Freidrich Reinitzer an austrian botanist, by observing the crystalline behavior of a carot's cholesterol. From there, numerous experiments were conducted and by 1936, patents for its practical application was submitted by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph company. LCD's did not have any major market application until the technology reached the shores of Japan. In the 1970's Switerland's Hoffmann-LaRoche cemented a patent on the twisted nematic effect on liquid crystals. He then sold the patent to Brown, Boveri & Cie, a swiss electrical engineering company. LaRoche also sold patents to Japanese companies and with Japan poised for an economic boom the following decade in the 1980's, it took LCD technology with it. Its first practical application includes portable calculators and digital watches. Liquid crystals act like opaque windows that prevents the passage of light. The nematic crystals bends its molecules when an electric current is introduced. When its molecules are bent, light can pass through which can create an image of a small dot. On simple LCD's where a backlight is not provided, it depends on external light to reflect the image. To prevent glare, a polarized glass is used. Today's LCD systems used on Flat panel TV, monitors and portable handheld devices utilizes an internal light source to project the image also called as a backlight.

On the manufacturing side, modern color LCD TVs has the capability to display resolutions of up to 1280 X 800 pixels. Since a single pixel contains a group of three subpixels each of which is controlled by three transistors, it can have as many as 2.3 million transistors to produce a fully functional high resolution image. Because of this enormous number, as much as 40% of panels are rejected on assembly lines. The marginal cost to produce LCD panels includes this high percentage of bad panels. Most major electronics manufacturers are now dropping the name LCD on their products and replacing it with the a newer sounding LED display. LED stands for light emmiting diode, which looks like a step up from LCDs. However, LED displays refers only to the backlight used to illuminate the LCD generated images. This is in fact a marketing decision and has no major technical change but units sold with this name tend to cost as much as 3X the value of "LCD" marketed devices.

LCD manufacturers
LG Display Co. (NYSE:LPL) US
Casio computer Co. Ltd. (TYO: 6952) Japan
Samsung Group (KRX: 005930.KS) South Korea
Sharp Corp. (TYO: 6753.T) Japan
Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) Japan
Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) Japan

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