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Figure 6. The driving force behind LCDs...Click to Enlarge Image

From colorful cell-phone screens to large flat-panel televisions and electronic billboards, it's impossible to get away from liquid-crystal displays these days. But until relatively recently, outside of the odd calculator or clock screen, LCDs were scarcely used. Castellano, who spent many years as a chemist involved in early LCD development at RCA Laboratories, traces the history of the technology. He describes several of the breakthroughs that have allowed LCDs to become the versatile devices they are today, along with engineering advances that enabled the screens to inexpensively reach large size in recent years, leading to their ubiquity. Castellano details some of the challenges still facing LCD research.

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