If you’re familiar with the technology behind plasma televisions, you know that the gas contained in each individual pixel receives a charge from a set of electrodes and produces ultraviolet light photons. These light particles hit a phosphor coating on the pixel’s walls. If the same picture remains on the screen long enough the phosphors will age prematurely and they will produce a less intense light and color. The phosphor’s continuous light will also burn the screen itself, leaving a ghost of an image. This burning of the screen, and the residual image it creates, is called burn-in. Older CRT monitors, as well as ATM machines, are prone to burn-in. This was the reason behind the invention of screen savers; having a randomly shifting image displayed whenever the picture was constant for a certain period of time helps prevent burn-in.
Burn-in occurs in 2 steps: premature phosphor aging and screen searing. A still image will create an unchanging electrical current in each plasma pixel. The resulting continuous flow of photons forces the television’s phosphors to release the same hue of light and this, when maintained for a long enough period of time, will damage the phosphors’ ability to produce this color light. They will become conditioned, and will never stop producing a weak shade of that same color light, even when no charge is being sent through the pixel. This affects other images that require a change in the pixel’s color. Screen searing is the dim, ghost-like image that literally gets burned into the glass of your screen. During a still image, the screen is bombarded with a specific spectrum of light from the phosphors. Since it’s given no time to rest, the screen develops a shadowy copy of the image which was frozen on the screen. We most often see this at the ATM, when remnants of the main menu remain on the screen throughout your transaction.
Now that you have an idea what burn-in is, you should know some ways to prevent it from occurring. The root cause of burn-in is a static image. Most newer model plasma televisions have added functions to automatically prevent burn-in. However, owners of older model plasma televisions should be aware of the danger of burn-in and should follow a few simply tips to extend the life of their television. You can avoid static images by turning off your plasma television when you’re not watching it. Also, you should steer clear of pausing a movie or a video game for an extended period of time and leaving the television on.
Burn-in is no longer a serious concern with newer plasma televisions thanks to a technology called pixel orbiter. The pixel orbiter subtly shifts static pictures to continuously keep the plasma screen’s phosphors working. By never resting, there is little chance of burn-in. Creating more work for the display may seem like a poor decision with regard to the lifespan of the unit, but keeping the phosphors fresh and changing actually helps the plasma screen last longer.