Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Super-Fast Pixels Could Make Smartphones Brighter and Longer-Lasting

A novel material allows the use of fast-switching liquid crystals, opening the way to more efficient LCD designs.
August 8, 2014

Displays account for between 45 and 70 percent of the total energy consumption in portable electronics. A new kind of liquid crystal display (LCD) with pixels that switch much more quickly could give smartphones brighter screens or make them last longer on a charge. The design uses new materials from Light Polymers, a startup based in South San Francisco.

a polarizing microscope
Crystal clear: At Light Polymers, the company’s new liquid crystal material is seen through a polarizing microscope.

In an LCD, a layer of liquid crystal material in each pixel switches from one state to another to block the passage of specific colors of light.

The new design uses three backlights, one red, one blue, and one green, that illuminate all of the pixels in the display in very rapid succession—too quickly for the eye to perceive. The color of each pixel then depends on perfectly timing when it opens to let light through. If it’s just open for when the blue light is on, it looks blue. Opening it also for some red or green would allow those colors to blend, to create different shades. The design is actually similar to one used for early televisions.

In a conventional LCD, pixels switch much too slowly—in the range of a couple of milliseconds—for the technique to work. Technology presented by Light Polymers at the 2014 Emerging Display Technologies conference in San Jose this week could allow switching in less than 60 microseconds. It involves using a new material that strongly anchors a kind of liquid crystal that switches pixels on and off very quickly.

The new design—known as a sequential display–could help LCDs close the energy efficiency gap with another type of display, the OLED. OLEDs are used in some smartphones and TVs, but are more expensive to produce.

Marc McConnaughey, CEO of Light Polymers, says the company’s materials are being evaluated by flat-panel display manufacturers. They can be swapped in for materials currently used in manufacturing lines, which could make it easier for producers to switch over.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.