Introduction: Polariscope From a Discarded LCD Monitor

About: I have a project at on making x-rays. I post some of my projects in a blog on the MySpace page.

A polariscope is two polarizers that are turned so that they block the light from behind. Transparent items, especially plastics, exhibit color bands when they are positioned between the plates. These bands and fringes are interesting as they are, but can also be used as components in other digital creations, similar to the way flames are used to create “Fiery Effects”.
LCD displays have a liquid crystal fluid between two polarized plates. These plates can be removed and used to make a polariscope. You can also photograph the patterns by using just one plate along with a polarizing filter on the camera.

Step 1: Materials Needed

An unwanted LCD monitor with no cracks in the screen.
Some single edge razor blades or thin knife blade.
Screwdrivers for removing the screen.
A light source to use with the polarizer screens. I used the screen of a discarded LED TV set.
Photo 1 shows the screen and the tools you need.

Step 2: Remove the Screen

The LCD monitor will probably have a shell that snaps together and is reinforced by screws. Remove the screws and pry it apart. The screen assembly is composed of two polarizers along with a white backing and various plastic diffuser sheets, all held together by a metal frame. 

Photo 2 shows two screen assemblies, the front of one and the back of another.

Step 3: Separate the Two Polarizer Sheets

The two polarizer sheets will be glued together with the liquid crystal fluid and associated electronics sandwiched between them, as in Photo 3.

Photo 4 shows how the sheets are held together by a white, rubbery, glue that needs to be softened by heat before you can insert a knife blade in there to separate the sheets.

Photo 5 shows how you slide a blade along the space between the sheets, being careful not to go too fast or separate them too far. It is easy to crack one of the glass polarizer sheets. The fluid between the sheets can be easily washed away once the sheets are separated.

Step 4: Clean Up the Polarizer Sheets

While the fluid comes off with water, I could find no solvent that would remove the electrode coating. But a razor blade can be used to scrape it off the glass, as shown in Photo 6.

Step 5: Arrangment

To photograph the stress patterns, put one of the polarizer sheets on a lightbox, add clear plastic items, and put a photographic polarizer on your camera lens. On my camera, you can use either a circular polarizer or a regular one. See photo 7.

Step 6: Take Some Pictures

These are plastic tubes, a plastic coat hanger, and the center of the plastic star, but with a twirl filter applied to the image.

Step 7: Final Thoughts

One day, I found a discarded 24 inch LED LCD TV with a cracked screen, looking like it had fallen over onto the floor or something. The TV would still light up, so I removed the broken glass and found the TV works as a light table for photographing small parts. This is what I use as a background light source.

This project can work just fine with a piece of milky plexiglass and a panlight for the light source.

I don't have a price list for any of this because this project arose from messing with monitors and materials from the alley.

The Photography Contest

Participated in the
The Photography Contest