LCD Backlight Technology

Since LCD panels produce no light of their own, they require external light to produce a visible image. In a “transmissive” type of LCD, this light is provided at the back of the glass “stack” and is called the backlight. While passive-matrix displays are usually not backlit (e.g. calculators, wristwatches), active-matrix displays almost always are.

The common implementations of LCD backlight technology are:


The LCD panel is lit by a row of white LEDs placed at one or more edges of the screen. A light diffuser is then used to spread the light evenly across the whole display. As of 2012, this design is the most popular one in desktop computer monitors. It allows for the thinnest displays. Some LCD monitors using this technology have a feature called “Dynamic Contrast” where the backlight is dimmed to the brightest color that appears on the screen, allowing the 1000:1 contrast ratio of the LCD panel to be scaled to different light intensities, resulting in the “30000:1” contrast ratios seen in the advertising on some of these monitors. Since computer screen images usually have full white somewhere in the image, the backlight will usually be at full intensity, making this “feature” mostly a marketing gimmick. 

WLED array

The LCD panel is lit by a full array of white LEDs placed behind a diffuser behind the panel. LCDs that use this implementation will usually have the ability to dim the LEDs in the dark areas of the image being displayed, effectively increasing the contrast ratio of the display. As of 2012, this design gets most of its use from upscale, larger-screen LCD televisions.


Similar to the WLED array, except the panel is lit by a full array of RGB LEDs. While displays lit with white LEDs usually have a poorer color gamut than CCFL lit displays, panels lit with RGB LEDs have very wide color gamuts. This implementation is most popular on professional graphics editing LCDs.