Year/Course: 2006-2007, Easter 2007

Contacts: Dr Steve Morris, CAPE, Cambridge University Engineering Department
Mentor: Caren Weinberg

Today, LCD displays are everywhere, in mobile phones, iPods, laptops, and as computer screens and domestic TVs. Current screens use white backlights with red, green and blue filters, and require three liquid crystal cells for each visible pixel (one per colour). They are also limited by the switching speed of the LCD materials, which are generally operating at their maximum in order to get acceptable quality video output.

Professor Coles and Dr Morris of the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics, while working on telecommunications projects, identified a way to improve on this method to produce LCD displays which are more power efficient and have a significantly higher switching speed. Their technique allows the development of displays which work in a frame sequential way, illuminating the display first with red light, then with green and blue. This removes the need to use coloured filters, reducing the light lost, and hence increasing the power efficiency. It also allows each pixel to be made from a single liquid crystal cell, reducing the cost, and providing the potential for increased resolution.

However, the invention represents only a small part of the technologies needed to produce a complete LCD display, and needs to be combined with a number of other technologies to create a complete product.

The i-Teams challenge will be to recommend who the inventors should work with in order to enable this invention to be fully exploited. Who are the companies who today provide components for and manufacture complete displays? Which of these will benefit most from incorporating the invention into their products, and which are most open to doing so? And are there particular product categories where the technology brings more advantages than in others, and in which the technology brings the maximum value?