The Rise of Mini-LED Backlighting

Sep 24, 2019

In recent years, light-emitting diode (LED) has become the preferred backlighting solution for liquid-crystal displays (LCDs). Whether it’s a TV, computer monitor or smartphone screen, most LCDs are illuminated with LED backlighting. It offers a highly effective, as well as efficient, way to illuminate LCDs. With that said, some LCD manufacturers have since switched to mini-LED backlighting.

What Is Mini-LED Backlighting?

Mini-LED backlighting, as the name suggests, is a backlighting solution for LCDs that’s characterized by the use of many small LED bulbs. Also known as sub-millimeter LEDs, mini LEDs are typically about 100 micrometers in diameter. As a result, they are just a fraction of the size of traditional LED backlighting bulbs.

It’s important to note that mini-LED backlighting isn’t the same as MicroLED. MicroLED is a specific type of display technology, whereas mini-LED backlighting is a type of backlighting technology.

Earlier this year, Apple announced plans to use mini-LED backlighting for iMac, MacBook and iPad LCDs. Other device manufacturers have followed suit by announcing similar plans to switch to mini-LED backlighting.

Benefits of Mini-LED Backlighting

Because they are significantly smaller than traditional LED bulbs, mini LEDs offer several key benefits when used for backlighting. According to Wikipedia, mini-LED backlighting supports over 1,000 Full-area Local Area Dimming (FLAD zones. As a result, LCDs with mini-LED backlighting project darker black images than their counterparts with traditional LED backlighting.

In addition to darker black images, LCDs with mini-LED backlighting have a higher contrast ratio than those with traditional LED backlighting. Why is this important? Well, contrast ratio refers to the ratio of bright to dark that the LCD is capable of producing. With a higher contrast ratio, LCDs can produce a wider range of colors.

The Bottom Line on Mini-LED Backlighting

Cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) is no longer the leading backlighting solution for LCDs. Today, most LCDs are made with LED backlighting. Mini-LED backlighting, however, is unique because of its exceptionally small LED bulbs. The small size of mini-LED bulbs allows for darker black images as well as higher contrast ratios, making them a popular alternative to traditional LED backlighting.

Mini-LED backlighting is still relatively new, so you probably won’t find many LCD devices featuring this backlighting solution. Nonetheless, Apple and several other device manufacturers have already announced plans to use mini-LED backlighting in their respective devices. Therefore, you can expect to see more LCDs featuring mini-LED backlighting in the years to come.

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