Short for liquid crystal display, a type of display used in digital watches and many portable computers. LCD displays utilize two sheets of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them. An electric current passed through the liquid causes the crystals to align so that light cannot pass through them. Each crystal, therefore, is like a shutter, either allowing light to pass through or blocking the light.
Monochrome LCD images usually appear as blue or dark gray images on top of a grayish-white background. Color LCD displays use two basic techniques for producing color: Passive matrix is the less expensive of the two technologies. The other technology, called thin film transistor (TFT) or active-matrix, produces color images that are as sharp as traditional CRT displays, but the technology is expensive. Recent passive-matrix displays using new CSTN and DSTN technologies produce sharp colors rivaling active-matrix displays.
Most LCD screens used in notebook computers are backlit, or transmissive, to make them easier to read.
A color television picture tube contains three electron guns, one corresponding to each of the three primary colors of light—red, green, and blue. Electromagnets direct the beams of electrons emerging from these guns to continuously scan the screen. As the electrons strike red, green, and blue phosphor dots on the screen, they make the dots glow. A screen with holes in it, called a shadowmask, ensures that each electron beam only strikes phosphor dots of its corresponding color. The glow of all the dots together forms the television picture.