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How Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) is Made?

Blaze Display Technology Co., Ltd. | Updated: Nov 27, 2018

The Manufacturing Process

Making passive matrix LCDs is a multi-step process. The surface and rear glass of the display is first polished, washed, and coated with silicon dioxide (SiO2). Next, a layer of indium tin oxide is evaporated onto the glass and etched into the desired pattern. A layer of long chain polymer is then applied to allow the liquid crystals to align properly, followed by a sealing resin. The spacers next are put into place, and the glass sandwich is filled with the liquid crystal material.

Preparing the glass substrates

l  1 First, the two glass substrates must be cut to the proper size, polished, and washed. Cutting can be done with a diamond saw or scribe, while polishing involves a process called lapping, in which the glass is held against a rotating wheel that has abrasive particles embedded in it. After being washed and dried, the substrates are coated with a layer of silicon dioxide.

Making the electrode pattern

l  2 Next, the transparent electrode pattern must be made on the substrates. This is done by completely coating both front and rear glass surfaces with a very thin layer of indium tin oxide. Manufacturers then make a mask of the desired pattern, using either a silk-screening or photolithography process. They apply the finished mask to the fully coated glass, and areas of indium tin oxide that are not needed are etched away chemically.

l  3 Alternatively, finer definition can be achieved by using glass that has a layer of etching-resistant, light-sensitive material (called photoresist) above the indium tin oxide film. A mask with the desired pattern is placed over the glass, and the glass is bombarded with ultraviolet light. This light causes the resistive layer it shines on to lose its resistance to etching, allowing the chemicals to eat away both the exposed photoresist and the indium tin oxide below it, thus forming the pattern. The unnecessary photoresist that remains can then be removed with other chemicals. A second variety of resistive film resists etching only after it is exposed to ultraviolet light; in this case, a negative mask of the pattern must be used. Regardless of which method is used, the patterns on the two substrates are designed to overlap only in specific places, a design that ensures that the thin strips of indium tin oxide conveying voltage to each element have no electrode positioned directly opposite that might show up while the cell is working.

Applying the polymer

l  4 After the electrode pattern is in place, the substrates must be coated with a polymer. The polymer allows the liquid crystals to align properly with the glass surface. Polyvinyl alcohol, polyamides, and some silanes can be used. Polyamides are the most popular agents, because polyvinyl alcohol is subject to moisture problems, and silanes produce a thin, unreliable coating.

l  5 After coating the glass, manufacturers then stroke the polymer coat in a single direction with soft material. This can result in small parallel grooves being etched into the polymer, or it may simply stretch the polymer coat. In any case, this process forces the liquid crystals to lie parallel to the direction of the stroke. The crystals may be aligned another way, by evaporating silicon oxide onto the glass surface at an oblique angle. This procedure is used to make most digital watch displays but is not convenient for making large-scale displays. It also does not yield the low-tilt angle possible with the previous method.

l  6 If LCD makers want to align liquid crystals perpendicular to the glass surface, another technique is used: coating the glass with an amphophilic material. This is material whose molecules display affinity for water at one end of the molecule and repulsion from water at the other end. One end—the affinity end—adheres to the glass surface while the other end—the repulsing end—points into the liquid crystal area, repelling the liquid crystals and forming them into an alignment that is perpendicular to the glass surface.

Applying the sealant and injecting the liquid crystal

l  7 A sealing resin is next applied to the substrates, followed by plastic spacers that will give the liquid crystal cell the proper thickness. Next, the liquid crystal material is injected into the appropriate area between the two glass substrates. The thickness of the LCD cell is usually restricted to 5-25 micrometers. Because proper thickness is crucial for cell operation and because spacers don't always achieve uniform thickness, LCD makers sometimes put appropriately sized glass fibers or beads in the liquid crystal material. The beads or fibers cannot be seen by the naked eye. They help hold the cell at the proper thickness while the sealant material is setting.

l  8 To make LCDs more visible, polarizers are added. These are usually made from stretched polyvinyl alcohol films that have iodine in them and that are sandwiched between cellulose acetate layers. Colored polarizers, made using dye instead of iodine, are also available. Manufacturers glue the polarizer to the glass using an acrylic adhesive and cover it with a plastic protective film. They can make reflective polarizers, which also are used in LCDs, by incorporating a simple metal foil reflector.


Final assembly

l  9 After the polarizer film is attached, the unit is allowed to age. Finally, the finished glass display assembly is mounted to the circuit boards containing the control and drive electronics. Then, the entire package is ready to be mounted to the device using the LCD—laptop computer, fax machine, clock, etc.


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