are not critical. Higher refresh rates and three-dimensional displays are beginning to penetrate the desktop market.

Although traditionally associated mostly with “science fiction” movies, the ability to create and view three-dimensional optical holographic images has potential applications in which full three-dimensional viewing is of great benefit, such as in defense, telemedicine, high-skill-level training, and collaborative rapid prototyping. A U.S. company, Zebra Imaging,10 is taking a leadership role in trying to commercialize this technology, and its ZScape holographic motion displays were named by Time magazine as one of the top 50 inventions of 2011.11 With this technology, teams of people can collaborate in real time by viewing lifelike, interactive images from any angle and with fine detail.


This section briefly describes the different display technologies. For a more in-depth description, see Appendix C.

Liquid-Crystal Displays

Polarized light and its manipulation are fundamental to the operation of an LCD. Such manipulation allows the creation of light valves (devices for varying the amount of light from an illumination source to a desired target), with millions of miniature valves in a single high-definition display.12 To achieve color, each pixel is subdivided into subpixels, with red, green, and blue (RGB) filters. Transistors on a glass substrate control the voltage and thus the amount of light passed through each subpixel. The early motivation for color LCDs was use in notebook computing. Improvements in LCDs resulted in wider applications and led to the displacement of competing technologies, including CRTs in traditional television sets.

There has been at least some market interest in extending LCDs to three-dimensional displays, exploiting polarization in a different way.13 In one technique, a polarizer on the glasses worn by the viewer matches the orientation of the polarized output of the display. Another possible approach for creating three-


10 Zebra Imaging. 2012. “Motion Displays.” Available at Accessed July 30, 2012.

11 Grossman, L., M. Thompson, J. Kluger, A. Park, B. Walsh, C. Suddath, E. Dodds, K. Webley, N. Rawlings, F. Sun, C. Brock-Abraham, and N. Carbone. 2011. Top 50 inventions. November 28. Time magazine. Available at,9171,2099708,00.xhtml. Accessed November 15, 2012.

12 For information on the control of polarization in LCD to define color, see Appendix C.

13 For more information, see Appendix C.

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