The Rise of Active-Matrix LCDs

Dec 18, 2019

Although there are exceptions, most liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are powered by either active-matrix or passive-matrix technology. In the past, passive matrix wax the most popular technology used for LCDs. In recent years, however, most manufacturers have since switched to using active-matrix technology. As a result, you might be wondering why there are so many active-matrix LCDs.

What Is an Active-Matrix LCD?

An active-matrix-matrix LCD is a type of LCD display device that’s characterized by the use of thin-film transistors. The thin-film transistors are embedded on a glass layer, typically using a grid-like arrangement. To activate a pixel, the row and column in which the pixel is located is electrically charged. With the exception of this row and column, all other rows and columns are disabled. Therefore, only the thin-film transistor at the pixel is electrically charged.

When a pixel in an active-matrix LCD is activated, it will hold its electrical charge until the device refreshes. Different LCDs have different refresh rates. The refresh rate refers to when the pixels will refresh their charge.

Faster Response Time

Active-matrix LCDs typically cost more to produce than their passive-matrix counterparts. With that said, they offer several benefits, one of which is a faster response time. A major drawback of passive-matrix LCDs is a slow response time. When using a passive-matrix computer monitor, for example, you may notice a delay from when you move your mouse to when the cursor actually moves.

Active-matrix LCDs don’t suffer from this problem because of their fast response time. They apply voltage more precisely to the pixels, resulting in a faster response time.

Brighter Images

In addition to a faster response time, active-matrix LCDs produce brighter images than passive-matrix LCDs. They have a wider color gamut than their passive-matrix LCDs, thus allowing them to produce brighter images.


Active-matrix LCDs have become particularly common in smartphones and other mobile devices because of their lightweight characteristics. They are typically lighter than passive-matrix LCDs. And because of their lightweight characteristics, active-matrix LCDs are ideal for smartphones, tablet computers, smart watches and other mobile devices.

Active-matrix LCDs aren’t a new concept. The technology was actually proposed in the late 1960s by American electronics engineer Bernard J. Lechner. In recent years, however, it’s become increasingly popular. Active-matrix LCDs offer a faster response time, brighter images, and they are naturally lighter than passive-matrix LCDs.

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