Several backlighting technologies exist, and they depend critically on advances in optical and photonic technologies. Solid-state lighting (LEDs) is now replacing most other lighting approaches for backlighting.4,5

Another technology with potential for big future impact and leadership by the United States is three-dimensional holographic displays.6 Uses today are mainly for military applications, but the technology could become widely available if the technology advances and cost declines.


The next few years should see a continuation of the trend of ever-larger displays at lower prices. In addition, higher-quality LED illumination with higher refresh rates (up to 240 hertz [Hz]) will be developed. In the United States, the display market has transitioned to flat panels; LCD displays now account for a high percentage of new sales. Plasma captures a smaller share of the TV market and is expected to decline as a fraction of the total TVs produced.7 There is considerable interest in OLED TVs, but they are at least several years away from capturing a significant share of the market. However, when the remaining technical challenges are solved, OLED displays should become a significant competitor to LCD displays.8 Another big trend is “three-dimensional-ready” televisions, although most of them are limited by the need for special glasses for viewing. Innovations are needed for three-dimensional displays that do not require special glasses. Additional trends for display products include thinner and lower-power-consumption displays. Several countries are beginning to impose restrictions on the total power consumption of display units, forcing manufacturers to come up with better designs, especially for lighting, which consumes approximately 25 to 40 percent of the total display unit power.9 On the notebook computer side, where low power consumption is a major consideration, LED lighting is the dominant technology. For desktops, fluorescent lighting is still being used because thickness and power consumption


4 Anandan, M. 2008. Progress of LED backlights for LCDs. Journal of the Society for Information Display. Volume 16(2):287-310.

5 Flanders, V. 2012. Liquid Crystal Display and Technology. New Delhi: World Technologies.

6 Zebra Imaging. 2012. Available at Accessed July 31, 2012.

7 In 2010, LCDs increased by 31 percent to 187.9 million units, while plasma grew by 29 percent to 18.24 million units. Data from Displaybank’s Month-to-Month FPD TV Shipment Information report; see Slipokoyenko Y., ed. 2012. Plasma vs LCD vs LED. Available at Accessed August 2, 2012.

8 Semenza, P. 2010. Display week 2010 review and market outlook: Can OLED displays make the move from the mobile phone to the TV? Information Display 26(8):14-17.

9 Lubarsky, G. 2011. “A Holistic Approach to Reducing Backlight Power Consumption.” How 2 Power Today. Available at Accessed November 28, 2011.

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