Scientists at IBM have developed a process that aligns the liquid crystals used in many computer displays without the need for abrasive rubbing, promising to cut manufacturing costs and improve image quality, the company said Thursday.
The technique, which International Business Machines reported in Thursday’s edition of the science journal Nature, replaces a 95-year-old method that uses velvet to rub the tiny crystals in place, sometimes causing streaks and scratches.
The new method involves shooting atoms at a thin layer of carbon to form tiny atomic rows. When liquid crystal molecules are added, they attach to the carbon atoms and form in the direction of the rows.
Liquid crystal displays are used in notebook computers and increasingly on desktop monitors. Sought after for their slim form, the displays have become a $20 billion-per-year business, IBM said.