Liquid crystal display technology has integrated itself into many facets of our daily lives. It has gradually become so commonplace that we as consumers barely even take notice. Going about our daily lives never thinking twice about how this technology came to be and what makes it possible. How many of us have digital watches? How many of us use cell phones, personal digital assistants, pagers, and compact disk players? Consumers are not concerned with how or why the displays work, just that there is a display and that it functions properly. It is intriguing to think of how electronic devices would have developed during the twentieth century had it not been for this specific type of technology. Liquid crystal displays have truly been instrumental in the progression and development of electronic devices. To understand what a liquid crystal display is we must first understand what liquid crystals are. The discovery of this type of matter and its subsequent development is what has led to the technology we use today.
The existence of liquid crystals was unknown to the world until a chance discovery by three scientists by the names of Virchow, Mettenheimer, and Valentin during the mid-nineteenth century. They discovered that the nerve fibers, which they were studying, formed a fluid substance and behaved strangely when viewed under polarized light. Concluding that this was an abnormality with the experiment they never realized that they had stumbled across a new phase of matter (Elston). Later in 1877, a scientist by the name of Otto Lehman discovered the second piece of the puzzle. At the.
time he was conducting experiments using polarizing microscopes to study the phase transitions of various substances. What he discovered was that a particular substance would change from a clear liquid, to a cloudy liquid before crystallizing. Yet just as the other scientists before him had done, he also came to the wrong conclusions regarding his experiment.