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Technical Journal No.4 (August 2001)

Dr. Tatsuo Uchida

Some of my most vivid memories revolve around research on LCD. I was involved in R&D to develop color LCDs beginning around 1973 and reflective color LCDs from around 1983.

In 1973, my colleagues and I decided we wanted to come up with a color LCD. We studied every system we could think of, including birefringence, optical rotation, and guest-host effects. Ultimately, we devised a full-color system for LCDs based on micro color filters within the cell, and put forth the idea in 1981. This system is now in widespread use, but when it was first announced, it was the object of a great deal of criticism. It was pointed out that, because it was a transmissive color system, we wouldn't be able to attain vivid, luminous colors like those from a CRT, and because the transmittance was extraordinarily low, we would be forced to use a backlight, and as a result, the LCD's low power consumption, one of its primary advantages, would be lost. However, we had spent the previous 10 years doing a theoretical analysis of every conceivable colorization method. Our studies indicated that, so long as the color spectrum was the same, there would hardly be any difference from light-emitting systems. This realization more than anything else convinced us that, in terms of performance of the LCDs of that time, there was no other approach to take. Before long, backlit color LCDs became commonplace, but the criticism I mentioned above continued to be an incentive for my colleagues and myself to try to come up with a reflective-type color LCD at some point in the future.

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