Types of TFT LCD Technology

TFT (Thin Film Transistor) LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) dominates the world flat panel display market now. Thanks for its low cost, sharp colors, acceptable view angles, low power consumption, manufacturing friendly design, slim physical structure etc., it has driven CRT(Cathode-Ray Tube) VFD ( Vacuum Fluorescent Display) out of market, squeezed LED (Light Emitting Diode) displays only to large size display area. TFT LCD displays find wide applications in TV, computer monitors, medical, appliance, automotive, kiosk, POS terminals, low end mobile phones, marine, aerospace, industrial meters, smart homes, handheld devices, video game systems, projectors, consumer electronic products, advertisement etc. For more information about TFT displays, please visit our knowledge base.

What we are talking about TFT LCD, it is a LCD that uses TFT technology to improve image qualities such as addressability and contrast. A TFT LCD is an active matrix LCD, in contrast to passive matrix LCDs or simple, direct-driven LCDs with a few segments without TFT in each pixel.

There are many types of TFT LCD Technology. Different TFT LCD technology has different characters and applications.

TN (Twisted Nematic) Type

The TN type TFT LCD display is one of the oldest and lowest cost type of LCD display technology. TN TFT LCD displays have the advantages of fast response times, but its main advantages are poor color reproduction and narrow viewing angles. Colors will shift with the viewing angle. To make things worse, it has a viewing angle with gray scale inversion issue. Scientist and engineers took great effort trying to resolve the main genetic issues. Now, TN displays can look significantly better than older TN displays from decades earlier, but overall TN TFT LCD display has inferior viewing angles and poor color in comparison to other TFT LCD technologies.

IPS (In-plane switching) Type

IPS TFT LCD display was developed by Hitachi Ltd. in 1996 to improve on the poor viewing angle and the poor color reproduction of TN panels. Its name comes from its in-cell twist/switch difference compared with TN LCD panels. The liquid crystal molecules move parallel to the panel plane instead of perpendicular to it. This change reduces the amount of light scattering in the matrix, which gives IPS its characteristic of much improved wide viewing angles and color reproduction. But IPS TFT display has the disadvantages of lower panel transmission rate and higher production cost compared with TN type TFT displays, but these flaws can’t prevent it to be used in high end display applications which need superior color, contrast, viewing angle and crispy images.

MVA (Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment) Type

Fujitsu invented Multi-domain Vertical Alignment (MVA) technology.

The mono-domain VA technology is widely used for monochrome LCD displays to provide pure black background and better contrast, its uniformly alignment of the liquid crystal molecules makes the brightness changing with the viewing angle.
MVA solves this problem by causing the liquid crystal molecules to have more than one direction on a single pixel. This is done by dividing the pixel into two or four regions – called domains – and by using protrusions on the glass surfaces to pretilt the liquid crystal molecules in the different directions. In this way, the brightness of the LCD display can be made to appear uniform over a wide range of viewing angles.

MVA is still used in some applications but it is gradually replaced by IPS TFT LCD Display.

AFFS (Advanced Fringe Field Switching) Type

This is an LCD technology derived from the IPS by Boe-Hydis of Korea. Known as fringe field switching (FFS) until 2003, advanced fringe field switching is a technology similar to IPS offering superior performance and color gamut with high luminosity. Color shift and deviation caused by light leakage is corrected by optimizing the white gamut, which also enhances white/grey reproduction. AFFS is developed by Hydis Technologies Co., Ltd, Korea (formally Hyundai Electronics, LCD Task Force).

In 2004, Hydis Technologies Co., Ltd licensed its AFFS patent to Japan’s Hitachi Displays. Hitachi is using AFFS to manufacture high end panels in their product line. In 2006, Hydis also licensed its AFFS to Sanyo Epson Imaging Devices Corporation. (Reference)

The AFFS is similar to the IPS in concept; both align the crystal molecules in a parallel-to-substrate manner, improving viewing angles. However, the AFFS is more advanced and can better optimize power consumption. Most notably, AFFS has high transmittance, meaning that less of the light energy is absorbed within the liquid crystal layer and more is transmitted towards the surface. IPS TFT LCDs typically have lower transmittances, hence the need for the brighter backlight. This transmittance difference is rooted in the AFFS’s compact, maximized active cell space beneath each pixel.

AFFS has been used in high end LCD applications, like high end cell.phone because of its superb contrast, brightness and color stability.

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