Liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) is a reflective active matrix liquid crystal display. It is generally termed as micro-display because of its miniature size that is built using liquid crystal layer on top of a silicon backplane. LCoS was initially developed for the purpose of projection in televisions but it has wider applications. It is used for structured illumination, near eye displays, wavelength selective switching and optical pulse shaping. The two major categories of LCoS displays are single-panel and three-panel. In a single-panel design, one display chip shows the green, blue and red components, one after another based on the eyes of the observer to combine the three components. When each colour is presented, a colour wheel or a RGB LED array brightens the display by red, blue or green light. An effect called colour breakup is seen when the frequency of colour fields get lower than 540 Hz.
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Single-panel projectors require high-speed display components to develop all three colours during a single frame time and are less expensive compared to three-panels. In a three-panel design, there is one display chip per colour, where the images are combined optically. The white light is diverged into three components- red, green and blue, and then converged back after modulation. In addition, the light is polarized by beam splitters.
The LCoS technology is used in major products such as head-mounted display (HMD), projectors and head-up display (HUD). Projectors are used in home theatre systems, educational and business purposes. HUDs are largely used for simulation and training, and finds application in high-end cars and aircrafts. HMD products find use in sports activities, gaming, research, aviation and military. The major application segments of LCoS, based on industry are consumer electronics, automotive, aviation, military, medical and optical 3D measurement. Consumer electronics segment is the most attractive market followed by the aviation sector. Advanced HUD and HMD panels are used in the aviation sector. HUDs are commonly used in the automotive sector at a large scale.
The increasing demand for high resolution display is set to bolster the growth of the global LCoS market. In comparison to liquid crystal display (LCD) and digital light processing (DLP), LCoS based products provide greater performance and higher quality. LCoS ensures wider compatibility with a number of products and superiority in relation to competing technology. LCoS technology is expensive and there are very few players in the market but in the coming years, the cost of technology is expected to reduce, with the increase in competition in the global market.
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North America dominates the global liquid crystal on silicon market, followed by Europe, Asia Pacific (APAC) and Rest of the World (ROW) region. The market in APAC and ROW is expected to grow at a decent rate, with the increase in demand in the consumer electronics and projectors market. The key participants in the global LCoS market are JVC Kenwood Corporation, Himax Display Inc., 3M, Cannon Inc., Pioneer Corporation, LG Electronics Inc., Sony Corporation, Microvision Inc., Syndiant Inc. and Holoeye Systems Inc.
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