Flat panel display is a technology that is being implemented in several fields for the use of lighter and thinner video displays. They are much more efficient than traditional video displays which use cathode ray tubes as well as take up less space, normally less than 100 mm in thickness. This is optimal for industries as it does not have the bulk of a traditional video display and though it may not always be a better picture, it has the capability of being portable. This is perfect for applications such as laptop computers, digital cameras, and even cellular phones.
There are two different categories that flat panel displays can be divided into. The first category is known as volatile flat panel displays. Volatile display requires a constant power output that refreshes the image on the screen of the display multiple times in the duration of a second. In order for this to appear steady, the images must be refreshed more times than the human eye can perceive. Examples include plasma displays, liquid crystal displays, light-emitting diode displays, field emission displays, and nano-emissive displays. The latter of the two are still in prototype stages but the others are all commercially available.
The second category of flat panel displays are static flat panel displays. These rely on the use of bistable color states in the materials being used. Because of this, energy is not required to stabilize the image that is being maintained. Instead, energy must be used in order to change the image. While this process creates a much more efficient display, it also tends to slow down the rate of refreshing, which is an adverse affect in an interactive display. Bistable flat panel displays are still young in terms of technology and currently few applications. They can, however, be used in electrophoretic displays, bichromal ball displays, and cholesteric displays, as well as a handful of other applications.
Flat panel displays, regardless of what category they fit into, require some sort of liquid or gaseous substance placed between a pair of crossed polarizers in order to shape the pixels into a coherent image. Examples of this substance could be liquid crystal in the case of an LCD screen or plasma which is used in a plasma screen. A voltage must then be applied, which is controlled by a thin film, and changes the alignment of the substance. By changing the alignment, light becomes blocked or is allowed to pass through, making the images change on the screen.
All flat panel displays are made up of pixels. Each pixel is made up of a combination of red, blue, green and white, and then combined with all of the other pixels to create an image. Depending on the number of pixels that are contained, a different resolution is created. At the core of the display is a thin film transistor which is then responsible for the amount of voltage used. This effects the light that is allowed through the flat panel display, and thus the color that is shown on the screen.