Shadow mask

Shadow mask

The shadow mask is one of two major technologies used to manufacture cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and computer displays that produce color images (the other is aperture grille). Tiny holes in a metal plate separate the colored phosphors in the layer behind the front glass of the screen. The holes are placed in a manner ensuring that electrons from each of the tube's three cathode guns reach only the appropriately-colored phosphors on the display. All three beams pass through the same holes in the mask, but the angle of approach is different for each gun. The spacing of the holes, the spacing of the phosphors, and the placement of the guns is arranged so that for example the blue gun only has an unobstructed path to blue phosphors. The red, green, and blue phosphors for each pixel are generally arranged in a triangular shape (sometimes called a "triad"). All early color televisions and the majority of CRT computer monitors, past and present, use shadow mask technology. This principle was first proposed by Werner Flechsig in a German patent in 1938.

Temperature variation challenges

Traditionally, shadow masks have been made of materials which temperature variations can cause expansion and contraction to the point of affecting performance. The energy the shadow mask absorbs from the electron gun in normal operation causes it to heat up and expand, which leads to blurred or discolored (see doming) images. The invar shadow mask, which is composed of the nickel-iron alloy invar, expands and contracts much less than other materials in response to temperature changes. This property allows displays made with this technology to provide a clearer, more accurate picture. It also reduces the amount of long-term stress and damage to the shadow mask that can result from repeated expand/contract cycles, thus increasing the display's life expectancy.

Choice of technology

While many have long considered aperture grille technology to produce superior images, advances in shadow mask and hybrid technologies since the 1990s have made purchasing decisions more a matter of personal choice or specific application. The arrival of inexpensive liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors and other flat-screen designs now challenges both aperture grille and shadow mask CRT's long reign as the technology behind the screens at which we look.

ee also

* Dot pitch

External links

* [http://www.monitorworld.com/faq_pages/q27_page.html What is a shadow mask?]
* [http://www.azom.com/details.asp?ArticleID=515 azom.com: Invar – Nickel Iron Alloy]
* [http://www.meko.co.uk/shadowmask.shtml Illustration]


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  • shadow mask — Television. a perforated metal plate situated behind the faceplate of a color television picture tube and having holes aligned to insure that each of three electron beams strikes only its corresponding red, green, or blue phosphor dot. Also… …   Universalium

  • shadow-mask — /ˈʃædoʊ mask/ (say shadoh mahsk) adjective of or relating to a type of picture tube commonly used in colour television receivers …   Australian-English dictionary

  • shadow mask —    The most common type of color picture tube in which the electron beam is directed through a perforated metal mask to the desired phosphor color element …   IT glossary of terms, acronyms and abbreviations

  • shadow mask — noun Date: 1951 a metal plate in a color cathode ray tube that contains minute apertures permitting passage of electron beams to specific phosphors on the screen during a scan …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Shadow mask — Градационная маска теней; Теневая маска …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

  • shadow mask — metal screen in a cathode ray monitor which reduces the distortion in the displayed picture …   English contemporary dictionary

  • shadow mask — noun : a metal plate in a color cathode ray tube that contains minute apertures permitting passage of the electron beam to specific phosphors on the screen during a scan …   Useful english dictionary

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