Exploring the Different Types of Active-Matrix LCDs

May 6, 2019

Liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) can be classified as either passive matrix or active matrix, depending on the way in which electricity is applied to the unit’s pixels. In passive-matrix LCDs, a grid applies a uniform voltage to all the display’s pixels. In active-matrix LCDs, thin-film transistors control the precise voltage for each pixel, allowing for improved refresh rates and a better overall images. But there are different types of active-matrix LCDs, each of which operates in a different way. Below are some of the most common types of active-matrix LCDs.

In-Plane Switching

One of the most popular types of active-matrix LCDs, in-plane switching LCDs are characterized by a unique design in which the pixels are aligned on a layer parallel to that of the glass top layer. When turned on, an electrical current is projected into the pixels using electrodes on the glass top layer, allowing the pixels to be “switched” on or off. In-plane switching technology is relatively new, but it’s gaining popularity among LCD manufacturing for its exceptional image quality and brightness.

Twisted Nematic

Another common type of active-matrix LCD technology is twisted nematic. What are twisted nematic LCDs exactly? They are called “twisted nematic” because they contain pixels that are able to twist and untwist at various angles, thus allowing for the propagation of light. When a twisted nematic PCDs is turned on, an electrical current is applied to a crystal the cell so that light passes through the pixel layers and, therefore, illuminates the display.

Super In-Plane Switching

There are also super in-plane switching LCDs, which like conventional in-plane switching LCDs, rely on electrodes to activate the pixels in the same plane. The difference between standard in-plane switching and super in-plane switching, however, is that the latter offers better performance. Super in-plane switching uses a similar design as traditional in-plane switching, except it’s able to provide faster response times and better color gamut. Of course, the downside to super in-plane switching LCDs is that they tend to cost more than LCDs powered by other technologies, including traditional in-plane switching.

Vertical Alignment

While not as common as the other technologies listed here, some LCDs are powered by vertical alignment technology. With vertical alignment, the pixels are oriented vertically with the glass top layer. However, the pixels change their orientation when they receive an electrical current. Applying voltage to the pixels of a vertical alignment LCD, for example, causes them to shift to a tilted position so that light can pass through them.

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