Morphological Analysis

Morphological analysis is a good tool to use as an aid in the setting of long term R&D targets either in new business areas, new processes or designs. It is not very useful in answering a problem in short-term innovation targets. Using this method it is possible to generate a large number of ideas in a very short time.

The initial step in the method involves breaking the problem down into the important functional areas, dimensions or sequential process. This method is best illustrated using an example. For the purpose of this exercise let us consider the area of liquid crystal displays in the electronics industry (Table C4).

Even this very simplified version of the LC Display area produces 3 x 5 x3 x 5 = 225 combinations. By applying additional business constraints, for instance time to market, cost, profits etc. it is easy to see how the number of combinations can rapidly increase.

Table C4 LC Displays (Morphological Analysis)

LC Materials

LC Properties




Twisted nematic

Simple matrix


Polymeric side chain

Super twisted nematic

X-Y Matrix


Polymeric backbone

Chiral smectic

Active Matrix

Flat panel


Large Area


High definition

Tuneable birefringent





The next step in the procedure is to look at all these combinations and list them against the following criteria.

1. Known

2. Would work but needs further study

3. Completely impossible in present state

The items coming from point 2 provide definite areas for work within R&D and justify further evaluation. It is also possible that those from point 3 might justify deeper thought and consideration for long-term research.

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