Disruptive Technology Assessment: Ready for the Quantum Dot Revolution?

By Rosemarie Szostak, Ph.D., Nerac Analyst

Originally Published February 15, 2019

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Viewed through the eyes of an innovation manager, quantum dot technology could either represent the best thing since sliced bread or your darkest nightmare. Quantum dots are dependent on the size of the nanoparticle and not the chemical nature of the material and enable applications ranging from large screen televisions (TVs) to packaging to medical diagnosis and imaging. Quantum dots have the potential to disrupt the status quo across virtually all industrial sectors. Your product may be obsolete and you just don’t know it yet.

Quantum Dots

Quantum dots, presently, are consumer-driven, and they are already displacing organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology for ultra-thin flat screen TVs because of their enhanced color quality and higher efficiency over other technologies. More than half of the premium TVs sold in the US over the last year feature quantum dot technology. This is a nightmare for those companies invested in OLED technology for display devices. The quantum dot market is expected to reach US$8.47B by 2023, growing at a whopping compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.97%.Leading companies currently involved in quantum dots include Nanosys(US), Nanoco(UK), QD Laser(Japan), and NN-Labs(US), and there are many more.

What is so special about quantum dots?

Color – pure and energy-efficient color. Quantum dots are semiconductors on the nanoscale. The size of the nanoparticle dictates the color as they obey the quantum mechanical principle of quantum confinement. Adsorption and emission of light is dependent only on the size of the nanoparticle and will not change over time, unlike other color-producing materials. What was holding back explosive growth in this field was that the early quantum dots were composed of toxic elements such as lead, cadmium, and phosphines, and that they were laborious to produce. With the discovery and development of quantum dots made from less toxic elements and improved synthesis measures, the next generation quantum dots can be cheaply produced on a commercial scale while complying with rigorous consumer product regulations.

How can quantum dots be used?

  • LED lighting and backlighting
    • Inexpensive, industrial quality white light
    • Eliminate the ‘blue’ emission that can interfere with the sleep cycle
    • Amazon, Samsung, LG, and Sony all offer quantum dot-containing displays for tablets, gaming devices, and TVs.
  • Solar cells and photovoltaics
    • Inexpensive
    • Theoretical limit of 60+% efficiency (compared to 33% for traditional solar cells)
  • Horticulture and window applications
    • Solar heating can be controlled while allowing the desired light to reach the inside of a building for optimal plant growth or personal comfort.
    • Potential to merge with solar cells to harvest energy while providing exterior view.
  • Anti-counterfeiting
    • The ability to specifically control absorption and emission spectra to produce unique validation signatures. Almost impossible to mimic with traditional semi-conductors.
  • Advertising and packaging
    • The ability to inkjet print allows quantum dots to be printed on virtually any material system including flexible packaging, home décor, and textiles advancing the ‘Internet-of-things’.
  • Sensors
    • Biomedical applications
    • Toxic chemicals
    • Environmental sensors
  • Medical imaging and cancer cell imaging
  • Quantum computing

(The list is endless)

How Can Nerac Help?

If you are interested in how quantum dot technology could impact your industry, Nerac Analysts can provide a deep dive into the technology and applications relevant to your technical and business intelligence needs. We can either help prevent you from being blindsided by a disruptive technology or help you stay on top of the technology so you can be on the leading edge of change.

Nerac is here to help. Contact us here to learn more.

About the Analyst

Rosemarie Szostak, Ph.D.

Rosemarie Szostak, Ph.D., advises companies on technology, patents, innovation and disruptive technology. She has 20 plus years of experience as a thought leader and analyst with broad technical knowledge in chemistry, materials and chemical engineering.

Academic Credentials

  • Post Doctoral Fellow, Chemical Engineering Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California Los Angeles
  • M.S., Chemistry/Physics, Georgetown University

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