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IPS (In-plane switching) is a screen technology for liquid crystal displays (LCDs). It was designed to solve the main limitations of the twisted nematic field effect (TN) matrix LCDs in the late 1980s. These limitations included strong viewing angle dependence and low-quality color reproduction. In-plane switching involves arranging and switching the orientation of the molecules of the liquid crystal (LC) layer between the glass substrates. This is done, essentially, parallel to these glass plates.
The TN method was the only viable technology for active matrix TFT LCDs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Early panels showed grayscale inversion from up to down, and had a high response time (for this kind of transition, 1ms is visually better than 5ms). In the mid-1990s new technologies were developed—typically IPS and Vertical Alignment (VA)—that could resolve these weaknesses and were applied to large computer monitor panels.
One approach patented in 1974 was to use inter-digital electrodes on one glass substrate only to produce an electric field essentially parallel to the glass substrates. However, the inventor was not yet able to implement such IPS-LCDs superior to TN displays.
After thorough analysis, details of advantageous molecular arrangements were filed in Germany by Guenter Baur et al. and patented in various countries including the US on 9 January 1990. The Fraunhofer Society in Freiburg, where the inventors worked, assigned these patents to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
Shortly thereafter, Hitachi of Japan filed patents to improve this technology. A leader in this field was Katsumi Kondo, who worked at the Hitachi Research Center. In 1992, engineers at Hitachi worked out various practical details of the IPS technology to interconnect the thin-film transistor array as a matrix and to avoid undesirable stray fields in between pixels. Hitachi also improved the viewing angle dependence further by optimizing the shape of the electrodes (Super IPS). NEC and Hitachi became early manufacturers of active-matrix addressed LCDs based on the IPS technology. This is a milestone for implementing large-screen LCDs having acceptable visual performance for flat-panel computer monitors and television screens. In 1996, Samsung developed the optical patterning technique that enables multi-domain LCD. Multi-domain and In Plane Switching subsequently remain the dominant LCD designs through 2006.
Later, LG Display and other South Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese LCD manufacturers adapted IPS technology.
Today, IPS technology is widely used in panels for TVs, tablet computers, and smartphones. In particular, all Apple Inc. products marketed with the label Retina Display (such as iPhone 4 onwards, iPad 3 onwards, iPad Mini 2 onwards, Mac Book Pro with Retina display) feature IPS LCDs with LED backlighting.
|Super TFT||IPS||1996||Wide viewing angle||100/100
|Most panels also support true 8-bit per channel colour. These improvements came at the cost of a lower response time, initially about 50 ms. IPS panels were also extremely expensive.|
|Super-IPS||S-IPS||1998||Colour shift free||100/137||IPS has since been superseded by S-IPS (Super-IPS, Hitachi Ltd. in 1998), which has all the benefits of IPS technology with the addition of improved pixel refresh timing.|
|Advanced Super-IPS||AS-IPS||2002||High transmittance||130/250||AS-IPS, also developed by Hitachi Ltd. in 2002, improves substantially on the contrast ratio of traditional S-IPS panels to the point where they are second only to some S-PVAs.|
|IPS-Provectus||IPS-Pro||2004||High contrast ratio||137/313||The latest panel from IPS Alpha Technology with a wider colour gamut and contrast ratio matching PVA and ASV displays without off-angle glowing.|
|IPS alpha||IPS-Pro||2008||High contrast ratio||Next generation of IPS-Pro|
|IPS alpha next gen||IPS-Pro||2010||High contrast ratio|
|Horizontal IPS||H-IPS||2007||Improves contrast ratio by twisting electrode plane layout. Also introduces an optional Advanced True White polarizing film from NEC, to make white look more natural. This is used in professional/photography LCDs.|
|Enhanced IPS||E-IPS||2009||Wider aperture for light transmission, enabling the use of lower-power, cheaper backlights. Improves diagonal viewing angle and further reduce response time to 5ms.|
|Professional IPS||P-IPS||2010||Offer 1.07 billion colours (30-bit colour depth). More possible orientations per sub-pixel (1024 as opposed to 256) and produces a better true colour depth.|
|Advanced High Performance IPS||AH-IPS||2011||Improved colour accuracy, increased resolution and PPI, and greater light transmission for lower power consumption.|
In this case, both linear polarizing filters P and A have their axes of transmission in the same direction. To obtain the 90 degree twisted nematic structure of the LC layer between the two glass plates without an applied electric field (OFF state), the inner surfaces of the glass plates are treated to align the bordering LC molecules at a right angle. This molecular structure is practically the same as in TN LCDs. However, the arrangement of the electrodes e1 and e2 is different. Because they are in the same plane and on a single glass plate, they generate an electric field essentially parallel to this plate. The diagram is not to scale: the LC layer is only a few micrometers thick and so is very small compared with the distance between the electrodes.
The LC molecules have a positive dielectric anisotropy and align themselves with their long axis parallel to an applied electrical field. In the OFF state (shown on the left), entering light L1 becomes linearly polarized by polarizer P. The twisted nematic LC layer rotates the polarization axis of the passing light by 90 degrees, so that ideally no light passes through polarizer A. In the ON state, a sufficient voltage is applied between electrodes and a corresponding electrical field E is generated that realigns the LC molecules as shown on the right of the diagram. Here, light L2 can pass through polarizer A.
In practice, other schemes of implementation exist with a different structure of the LC molecules - for example without any twist in the OFF state. As both electrodes are on the same substrate, they take more space than TN matrix electrodes. This also reduces contrast and brightness.
Super-IPS was later introduced with better response times and colour reproduction.
- IPS panels display consistent, accurate colour from all viewing angles A state-of-the-art (2014) comparison of IPS vs. TN panels concerning colour consistency under different viewing angles can be seen on the website of Japan Display Inc.
- Unlike TN LCDs, IPS panels do not lighten or show tailing when touched. This is important for touch-screen devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
- IPS panels offer clear images and stable response time.
- IPS panels require up to 15% more power than TN panels.
- IPS panels are more expensive to produce than TN panels.
- IPS panels have longer response time than TN panels.
IPS Alternative Technologies
|This section needs expansion.|
Plane to Line Switching (PLS)
Towards the end of 2010 Samsung Electronics introduced Super PLS (Plane-to-Line Switching) with the intent of providing an alternative to the popular IPS technology which is primarily manufactured by LG Display. It is an "IPS-type" panel technology, and is very similar in performance features, specs and characteristics to LG Display's offering. Samsung adopted PLS panels instead of AMOLED panels, because in the past AMOLED panels had difficulties in realizing full HD resolution on mobile devices. PLS technology was Samsung’s wide-viewing angle LCD technology, similar to LG Display’s IPS technology.
Samsung claimed the following benefits of Super PLS (commonly referred to as just "PLS") over IPS:
Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle (AHVA)
In 2012 AU Optronics began investment in their own IPS-type technology, dubbed AHVA. This should not be confused with their long standing AMVA technology (which is a VA-type technology). Performance and specs remained very similar to LG Display's IPS and Samsung's PLS offerings. The first 144 Hz compatible IPS-type panels were produced in late 2014 (used first in early 2015) by AUO, beating Samsung and LG Display to providing high refresh rate IPS-type panels.
Media related to IPS panel at Wikimedia Commons