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We have performed systematic characterizations of flicker in silicon light valves. It was found that there were four conduction mechanisms accounting for the flicker. These four mechanisms were residual dc charge on the silicon surface, voltage holding capability of the liquid crystal cell, voltage holding capability of the silicon panel, and parasitic capacitor coupling of the pixel. Major causes of these four mechanisms were identified. Solutions of flicker minimization were obtained for each mechanism. Among these solutions, offset of common voltage was found very useful to compensate for residual dc charge and parasitic capacitor coupling. Frame rate multiplication was found very useful for the minimization of flicker due to low voltage holding capabilities of the liquid crystal cell and silicon panel. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.