Newly developed blue-phase liquid crystal could make TVs three times sharper

2 Feb 2017

Samsung LCD TV on display. Image: Tooykrub/Shutterstock

As if 4K TVs weren’t impressive enough, an international team of researchers has conjured a new blue-phase liquid crystal that could make TVs three times sharper.

Since Samsung demonstrated its liquid crystal display (LCD) prototype in 2008, the technology that was supposed to revolutionise our TV viewing experience has changed little in nearly a decade.

This was due in no small part to manufacturer problems with high operation voltage and slow capacitor charging time.

More energy efficient

Using a new blue-phase liquid crystal developed by a team of international researchers led by the University of Central Florida (UCF), these problems could be fixed, and then some.

In a paper published to the journal Optical Materials Express, the researchers demonstrated that by combining its blue-phase liquid crystal with a special performance-enhancing electrode structure, it can achieve light transmittance of 74pc with an operation voltage of 15 volts per pixel.

This, the team said, would be enough to make the manufacturing of these TV sets feasible, while making the average TV viewing experience three times sharper than any modern screen.

In existing TV sets, thin-film transistors deliver a required voltage to control light transmission in each pixel, with each LCD subpixel containing red, green and blue filters that are used in combination to produce different colours to the human eye.

For example, the colour white is created by combining all three colours.

Aid virtual reality headset manufacturers

In blue-phase liquid crystal however, this switching of lights can be controlled 10 times faster, making the colours more vivid as light does not have to pass through colour filters.

“Today’s Apple Retina Displays have a resolution density of about 500 pixels per inch,” said Shin-Tson Wu, who led the research team at the UCF College of Optics and Photonics.

“With our new technology, a resolution density of 1,500 pixels per inch could be achieved on the same size screen. This is especially attractive for virtual reality headsets or augmented reality technology, which must achieve high resolution in a small screen to look sharp when placed close to our eyes.”

Wu and the team have said that the next stage in the technology’s development will be working with industry to create a working prototype screen that could be designed and built within the next year.

Samsung LCD TV on display. Image: Tooykrub/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic