We have developed new polarizing coating materials and processes which enable the fabrication of polarizers for large-area liquid-crystal displays. The polarizing materials are novel discotic surfactants which self-assemble in aqueous solutions to provide a stable liquid-crystalline phase within a wide range of concentrations and temperatures. These lyotropic liquid crystals in an aqueous medium can be spread on a substrate surface by a variety of techniques including a knife-like doctor blade, a rolling cylinder, or a roll-to-roll method. Under the shearing force applied during deposition, the liquid crystals align on the substrate forming a dichroic polarizer. This alignment process allows continuous production of large-area polarizing films at low cost compared with the current technology that requires stretching of the films. Thin coatings can be applied to flexible plastic films, glass, or rigid plastic substrates. Direct coating of the polarizing material on glass eliminates several process steps in liquid-crystal display production since lamination of the polarizing film is no longer required. These new polarizing films have a high optical performance including a polarizing efficiency of above 98% and a dichroic ratio as high as 7.7.