The common implementations of LCD backlight technology
Blaze Display Technology Co., Ltd. | Updated: Nov 27, 2018
CCFL: The LCD panel is lit either by two cold cathode fluorescent lamps placed at opposite edges of the display or an array of parallel CCFLs behind larger displays. A diffuser (made of PMMA acrylic plastic, also known as a wave or light guide/guiding plate) then spreads the light out evenly across the whole display. For many years, this technology had been used almost exclusively. Unlike white LEDs, most CCFLs have an even-white spectral output resulting in better color gamut for the display. However, CCFLs are less energy efficient than LEDs and require a somewhat costly inverter to convert whatever DC voltage the device uses (usually 5 or 12 V) to ≈1000 V needed to light a CCFL. The thickness of the inverter transformers also limits how thin the display can be made.
EL-WLED: The LCD panel is lit by a row of white LEDs placed at one or more edges of the screen. A light diffuser (light guide plate, LGP) is then used to spread the light evenly across the whole display, similarly to edge-lit CCFL LCD backlights. The diffuser is made out of either PMMA plastic or special glass, PMMA is used in most cases because it is rugged, while special glass is used when the thickness of the LCD is of primary concern, because it doesn't expand as much when heated or exposed to moisture, which allows LCDs to be just 5mm thick. Quantum dots may be placed on top of the diffuser as a quantum dot enhancement film (QDEF, in which case they need a layer to be protected from heat and humidity) or on the color filter of the LCD, replacing the resists that are normally used. As of 2012, this design is the most popular one in desktop computer monitors. It allows for the thinnest displays. Some LCD monitors using this technology have a feature called dynamic contrast, invented by Philips researchers Douglas Stanton, Martinus Stroomer and Adrianus de Vaan Using PWM (pulse-width modulation, a technology where the intensity of the LEDs are kept constant, but the brightness adjustment is achieved by varying a time interval of flashing these constant light intensity light sources), the backlight is dimmed to the brightest color that appears on the screen while simultaneously boosting the LCD contrast to the maximum achievable levels, allowing the 1000:1 contrast ratio of the LCD panel to be scaled to different light intensities, resulting in the "30000:1" contrast ratios seen in the advertising on some of these monitors. Since computer screen images usually have full white somewhere in the image, the backlight will usually be at full intensity, making this "feature" mostly a marketing gimmick for computer monitors, however for TV screens it drastically increases the perceived contrast ratio and dynamic range, improves the viewing angle dependency and drastically reducing the power consumption of conventional LCD televisions.
WLED array: The LCD panel is lit by a full array of white LEDs placed behind a diffuser behind the panel. LCDs that use this implementation will usually have the ability to dim or completely turn off the LEDs in the dark areas of the image being displayed, effectively increasing the contrast ratio of the display. The precision with which this can be done will depend on the number of dimming zones of the display. The more dimming zones, the more precise the dimming, with less obvious blooming artifacts which are visible as dark grey patches surrounded by the unlit areas of the LCD. As of 2012, this design gets most of its use from upscale, larger-screen LCD televisions.
RGB-LED array: Similar to the WLED array, except the panel is lit by a full array of RGB LEDs. While displays lit with white LEDs usually have a poorer color gamut than CCFL lit displays, panels lit with RGB LEDs have very wide color gamuts. This implementation is most popular on professional graphics editing LCDs. As of 2012, LCDs in this category usually cost more than $1000. As of 2016 the cost of this category has drastically reduced and such LCD televisions obtained same price levels as the former 28" (71 cm) CRT based categories.
Monochrome LEDs: such as red, green, yellow or blue LEDs are used in the small passive monochrome LCDs typically used in clocks, watches and small appliances.
Mini-LED: Backlighting with Mini-LEDs can support over a thousand of Full-area Local Area Dimming (FLAD) zones. This allows deeper blacks and higher contrast ratio. (Not to be confused with MicroLED.)