NanoMarkets Blog
Quantum Dot Technology Trends Impacting the Lighting and Display Markets
Published: November 12, 2013 Category: Advanced Materials Emerging Electronics

• The ability to alter the size and wavelength of the emitted light of QD materials makes these nanomaterials suitable for applications in the electronic display and lighting segments.

• Currently, QD Vision's (U.S.) Color IQ technology, a photo-luminescent technology, is the dominant QD-based large display solution in which QDs are mainly used as components of the LCD backlighting unit. The other technology, QLED, an electro-luminescent technology, is in the design phase, and the company expects to commercially launch QLED-based products once lifetime-related issues are properly addressed.

• QD Vision's Color IQ technology is likely to be at the forefront of QD-based large display solutions for the next two-three years. Other display industry OEMs are likely to adopt a QD strategy, just like Sony. At the same time, given the potential benefits and association of a big material supplier such as 3M (US), QDEF technology is likely to garner a fair share of the TV market in the mid-term.

• Sony is one of the first big display industry OEMs to incorporate QD Vision's Color IQ technology in its Triluminos brand of TVs that were recently launched commercially.

• 3M, in collaboration with Nanosys, which will provide its patented thin-film QD technology QDEF, is expected to launch a new range of displays for smartphones by the end of 2013. Apple is also rumored to be testing the feasibility of QLED in its future line of display products.

• However, the lighting market, partly due to its fragmented structure and partly its preference for expensive non-toxic QD materials, is likely to witness commercial launches sometime within the next five-six years. The emergence of cost-effective large-scale manufacturing techniques is likely to enhance the adoption rate of QD-based products in this segment. Philips, a leader in the lighting industry, is already exploring QDs for downlighting solutions and would definitely like to explore commercial QD manufacturing techniques.

• The ability of QDs to offer the same level of color purity as OLEDs at significantly lower power consumption levels creates a favorable value proposition for the portable display business, which typically craves power efficient devices. With leading display and materials manufacturers such as Sony and Osram already offering commercial QD-based solutions for portable display devices, other device producers looking to leverage the enhanced power efficiency of QDs can be expected to develop their own QD-based products.

• The power efficiency feature is also expected to attract a small percentage of high- performance TV consumers.

• The power efficiency QD Vision's 'Quantum Light ' photoluminescent technology, which has already seen commercial application in a downlighting solution, is likely to attract research activities in the lighting domain that could lead to commercially viable QD-based lighting solutions in the mid-term.

• The extended lifetime of QDs will equally benefit the large and small display segments and the lighting segment.

• Cadmium, a by-product of zinc production, is likely to remain the dominant QD raw material in the immediate future, although there has been growing consensus among manufacturers to shift towards non-heavy metal based QDs, particularly those involving indium and silicon. It will take several years, however, for QD manufacturers to improve the performance of these alternative materials to where it is on par with that of cadmium in QDs.

• Going forward, QD manufacturers will need to adopt cost-effective, large-scale QD manufacturing processes, such as colloidal synthesis, that are both convenient and scalable. Early entrants such as QD Vision, Nanoco Group (U.K.) and Quantum Materials Corporation (U.S.), through their respective patents, will be in a strong position to supply bulk quantities of QDs to the display industry in the near to medium term. Unless others adopt similar manufacturing techniques, the supply of QDs will be dominated by these early market movers.

• The current generation of cadmium-based QDs will continue to be a cause of concern due to the critical environmental and health hazards. While cadmium-based QDs are of greatest concern in biomedical applications, the display and lighting industry is not ignoring this issue. As mentioned above, there has been a concerted effort to make a paradigm shift to non-heavy metal-based QDs that are relatively less toxic in nature.

• Because QDs are considered an emerging class of hybrid nanomaterials, they are mostly governed by EPA through TSCA in the U.S. and in the European Commission through REACH, CLP, and RoHS in the EU. Although the current regulatory policies impose a moderate burden on QD manufacturers, it is expected that the regulatory framework will in fact become more uniform and more stringent in order to address the recent emergence of hybrid and complex types of nanomaterials that not only have the potential to offer multiple benefits, but may also pose a threat to the environment and human health.

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