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Seminar report on Plasma display
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Seminar report on Plasma display

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Plasma displays are bright (1,000 lux or higher for the module), have a wide color gamut, and can be produced in fairly large sizes—up to 150 inches (3.8 m) diagonally. They have a very low-luminance "dark-room" black level compared to the lighter grey of the illuminated parts of an LCD screen (i.e. the blacks are blacker on plasmas and greyer on LCDs). LED-backlit LCD televisions have been developed to reduce this distinction. The display panel itself is about 6 cm (2.5 inches) thick, generally allowing the device's total thickness (including electronics) to be less than 10 cm (4 inches). Plasma displays use as much power per square meter as a CRT or an AMLCD television. Power consumption varies greatly with picture content, with bright scenes drawing significantly more power than darker ones – this is also true of CRTs. Typical power consumption is 400 watts for a 50-inch (127 cm) screen. 200 to 310 watts for a 50-inch (127 cm) display when set to cinema mode. Most screens are set to 'shop' mode by default, which draws at least twice the power (around 500–700 watts) of a 'home' setting of less extreme brightness. Panasonic has greatly reduced power consumption ("1/3 of 2007 models") Panasonic states that PDPs will consume only half the power of their previous series of plasma sets to achieve the same overall brightness for a given display size. The lifetime of the latest generation of plasma displays is estimated at 100,000 hours of actual display time, or 27 years at 10 hours per day. This is the estimated time over which maximum picture brightness degrades to half the original value.


In 1936 Kálmán Tihanyi described the principle of "plasma television" and conceived the first flat-panel display system.
The monochrome plasma video display was co-invented in 1964 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Donald Bitzer, H. Gene Slottow, and graduate student Robert Willson for the PLATO Computer System. The original neon orange monochrome Digivue display panels built by glass producer Owens-Illinois were very popular in the early 1970s because they were rugged and needed neither memory nor circuitry to refresh the images. A long period of sales decline occurred in the late 1970s because semiconductor memory made CRT displays cheaper than the 2500 USD 512 x 512PLATO plasma displays. Nonetheless, the plasma displays' relatively large screen size and 1 inch thickness made them suitable for high-profile placement in lobbies and stock exchanges.
Electrical engineering student Larry F. Weber became interested in plasma displays while studying at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the 1960s, and pursued postgraduate work in the field under Bitzer and Slottow. His research eventually earned him 15 patents relating to plasma displays. One of his early contributions was development of the power-saving "energy recovery sustain circuit", now included in every color plasma display.

How plasma displays work

A panel typically has millions of tiny cells in compartmentalized space between two panels of glass. These compartments, or "bulbs" or "cells", hold a mixture of noble gases and a minuscule amount of mercury. Just as in the fluorescent lamps over an office desk, when the mercury is vaporized and a voltage is applied across the cell, the gas in the cells form a plasma. With flow of electricity (electrons), some of the electrons strike mercury particles as the electrons move through the plasma, momentarily increasing the energy level of the molecule until the excess energy is shed. Mercury sheds the energy as ultraviolet (UV) photons. The UV photons then strike phosphor that is painted on the inside of the cell. When the UV photon strikes a phosphor molecule, it momentarily raises the energy level of an outer orbit electron in the phosphor molecule, moving the electron from a stable to an unstable state; the electron then sheds the excess energy as a photon at a lower energy level than UV light; the lower energy photons are mostly in the infrared range but about 40% are in the visible light range. Thus the input energy is shed as mostly heat (infrared) but also as visible light. Depending on the phosphors used, different colors of visible light can be achieved. Each pixel in a plasma display is made up of three cells comprising the primary colors of visible light. Varying the voltage of the signals to the cells thus allows different perceived colors.
A plasma display panel is an array of hundreds of thousands of small, luminous cells positioned between two plates of glass. Each cell is essentially a tiny neon lamp filled with rarefied neon, xenon, and other inert gases; the cells are luminous when they are electrified through "electrodes".
The long electrodes are stripes of electrically conducting material that also lie between the glass plates, in front of and behind the cells. The "address electrodes" sit behind the cells, along the rear glass plate, and can be opaque. The transparent display electrodes are mounted in front of the cell, along the front glass plate. As can be seen in the illustration, the electrodes are covered by an insulating protective layer. Control circuitry charges the electrodes that cross paths at a cell, creating a voltage difference between front and back. Some of the atoms in the gas of a cell then lose electrons and become ionized, which creates an electrically conducting plasma of atoms, free electrons, and ions. The collisions of the flowing electrons in the plasma with the inert gas atoms lead to light emission; such light-emitting plasmas are known as glow discharges.

Contrast ratio

Contrast ratio is the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of an image, measured in discrete steps, at any given moment. Generally, the higher the contrast ratio, the more realistic the image is (though the "realism" of an image depends on many factors including color accuracy, luminance linearity, and spatial linearity.) Contrast ratios for plasma displays are often advertised as high as 5,000,000:1. On the surface, this is a significant advantage of plasma over most other current display technologies, a notable exception being organic light-emitting diode. Although there are no industry-wide guidelines for reporting contrast ratio, most manufacturers follow either the ANSI standard or perform a full-on-full-off test. The ANSI standard uses a checkered test pattern whereby the darkest blacks and the lightest whites are simultaneously measured, yielding the most accurate "real-world" ratings. In contrast, a full-on-full-off test measures the ratio using a pure black screen and a pure white screen, which gives higher values but does not represent a typical viewing scenario. Some displays, using many different technologies, have some "leakage" of light, through either optical or electronic means, from lit pixels to adjacent pixels so that dark pixels that are near bright ones appear less dark than they do during a full-off display. Manufacturers can further artificially improve the reported contrast ratio by increasing the contrast and brightness settings to achieve the highest test values. However, a contrast ratio generated by this method is misleading, as content would be essentially unwatchable at such settings.

Screen burn-in

Image burn-in occurs on CRTs and plasma panels when the same picture is displayed for long periods of time. This causes the phosphors to overheat, losing some of their luminosity and producing a "shadow" image that is visible with the power off. Burn-in is especially a problem on plasma panels because they run hotter than CRTs. Early plasma televisions were plagued by burn-in, making it impossible to use video games or anything else that displayed static images.
Plasma displays also exhibit another image retention issue which is sometimes confused with screen burn-in damage. In this mode, when a group of pixels are run at high brightness (when displaying white, for example) for an extended period of time, a charge build-up in the pixel structure occurs and a ghost image can be seen. However, unlike burn-in, this charge build-up is transient and self corrects after the image condition that caused the effect has been removed and a long enough period of time has passed (with the display either off or on).

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