The screen you’re reading this on was inspired in Hull 40 years
Last updated on 9/23/2014 Print this page
20 March 2013
Did you know that the phone in your pocket, the screen on your
desk and your 3D television exist because of a technological
breakthrough 40 years ago this week by a research team at the
University of Hull?
On March 22, 1973 Professor George Gray, FRS, CBE, published a
paper describing a new type of liquid crystals that could be
stabilised at room temperature for the very first time, giving
birth to the first generation of liquid crystal displays or
Liquid crystals are now used in everything from televisions and
mobile phone screens to domestic cleaning creams. However, their
widespread use in electronic displays only came about after a team
of researchers at the University of Hull, led by Professor Gray,
made the breakthrough that made them commercially usable. Last year
more than 750 million LCD products, with an estimated value of £56
billion, were manufactured worldwide - all inspired by the
breakthrough made in Hull.
Forty years on, the University of Hull continues to lead the way
in the development of the next generation of LCD technology
(Organic Light Emitting Diodes - OLEDs) which promise thinner
screens, sharper pictures and greater energy efficiency.
Professor Steve Kelly, Dean of the Faculty of Science and
Engineering, who worked with Professor Gray developing LCDs in the
1970s, said: “I remember how rewarding it was to work with liquid
crystals in the 1970s; to see how our work led to a new era in TV
manufacturing – from the bulky cathode ray tube to the streamlined
liquid crystal displays – was quite spectacular.
Everywhere we go now, we can see the impact of that work with
smartphones, computer screens and portable devices constantly in
use all over the world.
“The University of Hull’s liquid crystal research carries on to
this day. It is a constantly evolving technology and we are proud
that we continue to be at the forefront, keeping UK science on the
global innovation map.”
The University of Hull’s LCD research has been recognised by a
number of prestigious awards, including a Queen’s Award for
Technological Achievement in 1979 and Professor Gray was awarded
the Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology in 1995.
The 40th anniversary of the LCD breakthrough, which falls during
National Science and Engineering Week, will kick start a series of
events and campaigns throughout 2013 to spread the word about
Hull’s role in inspiring modern technology.