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What happens if I pierce a TFT monitor screen with something sharp (say a steel nail or an awl)? Will only the pierced region malfunction or the whole monitor screen?

There's an opinion that in this case the entire screen will "flow out" (more specifically - "liquid crystals will flow out") and stop working completely. Is that truth or an urban legend?

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Don't try this at home! – Ivo Flipse Jun 15 '10 at 6:07
@Ivo Flipse: Can this be dangerous? – sharptooth Jun 15 '10 at 6:08
I just thought it could use a disclaimer @sharptooth – Ivo Flipse Jun 15 '10 at 22:06
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's truth - depending on how severe your damage is.

When you pierce an LCD display, it depends which level you penetrated to. There is the front glass, which of course will crack, and sometimes will widen. Then there is the Liquid Crystal Display layer, which will leak liquid crystal and be a dark patch depending on how big/wide the flow of liquid crystal is because the liquid crystal is inherently black in its native state, and finally, if you manage to pierce through to the backlight, part or all of the screen will not be lit, meaning you got an all dark display.

Oh yeah, Liquid Crystals are considered a hazardous substance when comes in contact with skin, and some may even contain lead.

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If you ever actually have an LCD /leaking/, you need to back off and call in hazmat. It's very dangerous stuff. – Shinrai May 15 '11 at 5:43

I once had an LCD monitor (it was looong time ago) that got damaged at one place. Over time, this gap started to spread and become larger. I don't know if it happens to modern TFT monitors. But the monitor has a thin glass sheet in front of the display, so if you break that, cracks will probably be created which may affect a larger area.

And yes, don't try this at home. Or at least not with a monitor that you want to use in the future.

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A laptop in our house got the screen damaged in an earthquake when a heater fell on the lid. This cracked the lcd panel from the back, the front glass was fine. A large black claw shaped region appeared permenantly in the corner, with cracks eminating outwards from this (point of impact). The screen worked fine where the cracks were, but over time the cracks became black lines which got wider and wider. If you moved the laptop or touched the panel, the cracks would shimmer. The cracks went across the entire screen.

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