Liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) have become increasingly popular in recent years. Statistics show that over 220 million LCDs are sold each year — a number that’s expected to increase in the years to come. From TVs and computer monitors to smartphones, smartwatches and more, countless display devices are powered by LCD technology. Unless you’re familiar with the technology, though, you might be wondering how LCDs work exactly.

What Is an LCD? The Basics of LCDs

An LCD is a type of flat-panel display device that’s characterized by the use of liquid crystals. It’s called a “liquid crystal display” because it’s made of liquid crystals. The pixels used to create the LCD’s images are made of organic liquid compounds with a crystalline structure.

How LCDs Work

So, how exactly do LCDs work? Although there are exceptions, most LCDs are manufactured with two layers of polarizing material. The two polarizing layers face each other. When the LCD is turned and a voltage is applied to the layers, the polarization shifts to create areas of brightness or darkness. In this regard, the polarized layers allow the LCD to control the amount of light that passes through the liquid pixels.

Of course, there are several types of LCDs on the market, two of the most common being passive matrix and active matrix. Passive-matrix LCDs are characterized by the use of horizontal and vertical wires that form a grid. In comparison, active-matrix LCDs feature capacitors where the pixels intersect. Regardless, both passive-matrix and active-matrix LCDs feature liquid pixels as well as multiple polarized layers.

Backlighting for LCDs

It’s important to note that LCDs aren’t capable of producing light by themselves. Rather, they require backlighting to illuminate the liquid crystals and, therefore, produce visible images. The most common backlighting solution used in LCDs is light-emitting diode (LED). The LED bulbs are embedded behind the pixels where they are able to project light upwards to create visible images.

Benefits of LCDs

LCD has become the leading display technology, and for good reason. When compared to other display technologies, LCD is more energy efficient. LCDs require less energy to operate, resulting in cost-savings benefits for consumers and business owners who use them.

Not only are they efficient, but LCDs also produce high-quality images. LCDs don’t suffer from screen burn. In other words, they can’t develop permanent images that are burned into the display. These are just a few benefits of LCDs that have attributed to their popularity.