Liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are all around us. They are used in TVs, computer monitors, infotainment systems, smart wearables, smart appliances, mobile devices and countless other devices.

Like all other displays, LCDs are comprised of pixels. They use backlighting in conjunction with polarizers to illuminate these pixels. But the pixels in an LCD can be further broken down into subpixels. What are LCD subpixels exactly, and how do they work?

Overview of Subpixels

Subpixels are the building blocks of pixels within LCDs. LCDs use liquid organic material for their respective pixels. Unbeknownst to many people, however, the pixels within LCDs are comprised of subpixels.

Each pixel is comprised of three subpixels. They feature a red subpixel, a green subpixel and a blue subpixel. If an LCD has 8 million total pixels, it will typically contain 24 million subpixels — three subpixels for each of the LCD’s 8 million pixels.

How Subpixels Work

Subpixels allow LCDs to produce visible, colored images. Subpixels use the red, green blue (RGB) arrangement. With the right voltage, LCDs can achieve nearly any color.

Applying a voltage to an LCD’s subpixels will force those subpixels to move away from the polarizers. This is essentially how many LCDs create colored images. They apply a voltage to their subpixels, which causes the subpixels to shift or otherwise move away from the polarizers. As long as the correct voltage is applied, an LCD can achieve a specific color for any given area of its display.

Subpixels vs Standard Pixels

As previously mentioned, subpixels are the building blocks of standard pixels. Each standard pixel is comprised of three individual subpixels. There are red, green and blue subpixels. Within each standard pixel is a set of these three colored subpixels.

LCDs produce high-quality images, which can partly be attributed to their use of subpixels. There are other display technologies on the market, many of which have been around for a longer length of time, but they don’t use subpixels. Subpixels are exclusive to LCDs. With subpixels, LCDs can create a wide range of vibrant colors that manifests in the form of high-quality images.

In Conclusion

When researching LCDs, you may come across the term “subpixels.” Many people assume that pixels are the building blocks of LCDs, but this isn’t necessarily true. While pixels do, in fact, form images, they are comprised of subpixels. Each standard pixel within an LCD can be broken down into a set of subpixels: a red, green and blue subpixel.