22nd March 1973.

We take laptops, digital clocks, watches and microwave displays for granted, but they all depend on research going back to the 19th century, resulting in the many liquid crystal display (LCD) applications we have today.

It was Today in 1973 which saw a Paper published by Dr. George Grey, describing a synthesis of a new class of liquid crystals called cyanobiphenyls, and which effectively heralded the LCD era.(1)

Some substances operate in a solid state where molecules tend to maintain their orientation, and same position relative to each other. However liquids change their orientation, tending to move around to different positions. Liquid crystals are neither solid nor liquid and thus their name.

However liquid crystals are closer to liquids and require a fair amount of heat to change a suitable substance from sold to liquid and a little more heat to turn into a real liquid. So LCDs are sensitive to temperature. Laptops by using LCDs in their screens, can thus turn funny in extreme temperatures.

It was in the late 1960s that pioneering work was being done at the Royal Radar Establishment, Malvern, Worcestershire, which supported work being undertaken at Hull University by George Grey.

It was Grey who ultimately made the key discovery of cyanobiphenyls, which had the correct stabilization and temperature properties for application in LCDs.(2)

images (17)

In Britain development was pushed by the Labour Government’s, Technology Minister, John Stonehouse in 1968 who concerned about the cost of Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) at the Ministry of Defence (MOD) wanted a technology to replace it which resulted in a working party to investigate a change.

It was to be taken up by BDH Chemicals later E Merck in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence, which resulted in the first LCD displays in 1974.

The advantages of LCDs is that television screens can be made larger and thinner, compared with a CRT monitor, and they have a sharper image.

(1) One of the 4 factors making LCDs possible is polarized glass which reduces glare from reflected light, by scattering from its horizontal polarization.

(2) It was in 1962 that saw the first major English language publication entitled: Molecular Structure of Properties of Liquid Crystals by Dr.G.W.Grey.

Ref: electronics.howstuffworks.com/LCDs.

Ref: wikipedia.org/liquid_crystal_displays.

Ref: physicsclassroom.com/waves.

Ref: googleimages/Pic Ref.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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