The Optoelectronics industry uses a lot of technical terms and acronyms, so we have created a glossary of the most frequently used terms to assist you.



Active Each pixel is driven by an individual transistor in the LCD glass, as found in TFTs (the opposite of Passive)
Active Area The dimensional area of the active pixels on the display
Backlight A light source that is positioned behind a display. It is typically used to illuminate the display but can also be used to add colour to certain display types (see PMVA)
BCD (Bi-stable Cholesteric Display) “E-paper” display technology that does not require a backlight. Text and images are printed on to the screen, using less power
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Brightness The light intensity of the display - this is expressed in candela per square metre (cd/m²)
Capacitive Touchscreen A touchscreen technology that measures the capacitance in your finger when pressing down, allowing for lighter touches than with resistive touchscreens and support for multi-touch.  It is applied to TFT displays via a CTP.
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COB (Chip on Board) A display technology where the control chip is located on the PCB
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COG (Chip on Glass) A display technology where the control chip is located on the LCD glass in order to save space on the PCB
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Contrast Ratio The ratio between the lightest and darkest pixels in the display 
CTP (Capacitive Touch Panel) This is added to a display to allow users to directly interact with the display with a finger, gloved hand or stylus
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Duty Describes the number of pixels or segments in a Passive display that are driven by a single controller E.g. 1/32 duty means one controller drives 32 pixels or segments
eDP (Embedded DisplayPort) A display output technology with the same processing protocol as DisplayPort but using smaller, fine pitch connectors (see LVDS)
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FFC (Flat Flexible Cable) A flat cable used to connect a display with a PCB, offering greater flexibility than LVDS and useful in small form factor designs
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FHD (Full HD Resolution) 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (also known as 1080p)
FPC (Flexible Printed Circuit)  Used to connect a display to a PCB; incorporates circuitry to allow components to be mounted on to the FPC directly, saving space on the PCB
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FS Colour (Field Sequential Colour) A technique used in TN segment displays where the primary colours are presented as a series of successive images. This happens so quickly the human eye only sees one image  
FSTN (Film compensated STN) Use of film with an STN display to enhance performance characteristics, such as contrast 
HD (High Definition)  1,280 x 720 pixels (also known as 720p) 
I2C (Inter-integrated Circuit)  A bi-directional serial bus providing a communication link between integrated circuits
IPS (In-plane Switching)  A display technology that improves TN technology limitations, with better colour contrast and all round viewing angles 
ITO (Indium Tin Oxide)  A glass substrate used in the manufacture of displays to create fixed patterns on the glass, typically used for segment/icon displays or mono graphic displays
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) A catch-all term, LCDs are flat-panel displays that use light-modulating liquid crystals and require a backlight to display their image
LED (Light Emitting Diode) Used to provide a backlight for displays and, in some cases, can provide colour to the display (see PMVA)
LIF (Low Insertion Force) Connector A type of connector used with FFC/FPC; similar to ZIF but relies on friction for retention and has no locking mechanism
LVDS (Low-voltage Differential Signalling) A low-power, low-profile display output technology that uses fine pitch connectors (0.5 mm or 1 mm), allowing for flexible routing through tight units
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MCU (Micro Control Unit) A small computer used on a PCB to make display programming easier, reducing the need for extra components
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MIPI (Mobile Industry Processor Interface)  An interconnect protocol that allows for faster processing of data to the display, useful for high definition displays
Mono  Also referred to as Monochrome, meaning single colour  
MPU (Micro Processing Unit)  A computer processor that incorporates functions of a traditional central processing unit (CPU) into a single IC, increasing efficiency
MVA (Multi-domain Vertical Alignment) A display technology providing fast response times, all round viewing angles and improved contrast over TN technology
Negative Mode Light characters on a dark background (the opposite of Positive)
O-Film (Optical Film)  A polarising agent applied to TFTs that provides all round viewing angles, overcoming the need for more expensive IPS displays
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OCA (Optical Clear Adhesive) A clear liquid or film that is placed between a touchscreen or glass panel and a TFT; used in optical bonding
OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) Ultra-thin display technology with all round viewing angles and no need for a backlight
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Optical Bonding  Increases sunlight readability by adding OCA between the display or CTP and a glass front panel. This prevents light from diffracting between the two and also improves display durability
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Passive Each pixel is identified by addressing rows and columns of the display (the opposite of Active)
Pixel An individual dot on the display - the pixel count determines a display's resolution
PMVA (Passive Matrix Vertical Alignment) A display technology with an incredibly black contrast - it can be designed into graphic or segment/icon displays, or a hybrid of both
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Positive Mode  Dark characters on a light background (the opposite of Negative)
QHD (Quad High Definition) 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (four times 720p resolution)
Reflective  A viewing mode which uses ambient light only - no backlight is required
Resistive Touchscreen An older touchscreen technology that measures input from resistance when pressing down and detects this input in an XY grid.
Resolution Pixel count, for example 800 x 480 (800 pixels across and 480 pixels down)  
SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) An interface that enables the serial exchange of data between two devices, allowing for faster transfer speeds 
STN (Super Twisted Nematic)  A display technology with a monochrome passive matrix, providing improved 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock viewing angles
TAB (Chip on Tab)  A display technology where the control chip is located on the FPC to save space on the glass 
TFT (Thin Film transistor)  A variant of LCD technology with improved resolution and contrast, widely used in both consumer and industrial applications
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TN (Twisted Nematic) The most common display technology, typically providing either 6 o'clock or 12 o'clock viewing angles
Transflective  A viewing mode that allows you to view the display with or without the use of backlighting
Transmissive  A viewing mode that relies on backlighting for display illumination  
Viewing Angle The angle or angles from which the screen can be best viewed, typically likened to a clock face E.g. 6 o’clock (viewed from below) or 12 o’clock (viewed from above) 
Viewing Area  The dimensions of the window size, which are slightly larger than the Active Area
ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) Connector A type of connector used with FFC/FPC; allows for easy insertion of a cable without damage and locks to ensure reliable cable retention
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