How LCD Display Works

Monitors that use LCD display technology are a major upgrade from the old CRT monitors, and not just because they are lighter. LCD monitors also offer an excellent picture. But what makes these skinny, sleek monitors so effective? Basically, several different layers, including polarizers, transistors, color filters and glass surround the liquid crystals to manipulate light that passes through the display. Let's consider the layers of a liquid crystal display from back to front to understand how it works:

Backlight: When the backlight shines through the liquid crystal display, the liquid crystals alternately block the light or let it through, which creates the image on the screen. For that reason, you'll need to beware of ultra-cheap LCD computer monitors because the backlights might not be evenly distributed, resulting in a brighter picture in only one spot on the monitor.

Polarizing Layers: The light from the backlight passes through a polarizing layer, and it will pass through a second polarizing layer after passing through the rest of the display. The polarizing layers are arranged at a 90-degree angle, which means the light won't show through the screen unless the liquid crystals react to change the direction of the light so that it passes through the second polarizing layer.

Transistors: A glass plate with transistors helps carry the electrical current to the liquid crystals, which prompts them to react and either block or show light.

Liquid Crystals: "LCD" stands for "liquid crystal display," and these crystals are the material that reacts to the electrical current, helping to create the image that you see. The crystals twist and untwist, and this action is what lets the light through.

Color Filter: The crystals may block and unblock the backlight, but the screen is also composed of tiny filters-one red, one green and one blue-that create the colors you see. Each set of these three filters makes up a pixel. The transistors are associated with the pixels, and if a transistor ever burns out, the liquid crystal won't be able to react, which results in a "dead pixel."

By the time the light from the backlight travels from the screen to your eyes, it has been manipulated to produce the image. However, that manipulation happens in such a brief span of time that you don't even notice. But the real genius of LCD displays is that, somehow, all this technology doesn't take up that much space on your desktop.

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