Quantum dots: time of growth and change

July 27, 2018 //By Dr Khasha Ghaffarzadeh
Quantum dots: time of growth and change
Quantum dots (QDs) are no longer a young technology. Even their commercialization process is not new since the pioneering companies were formed in the 2001-2005 period. The QDs are also not commercially novice: they have been employed in LCD displays as remote phosphors for several years.  

One might then be tempted to assume that QDs are now a stagnant technology with slow and unchanging commercial prospects. This assumption would however be very wrong.

Largely inspired from the IDTechEx Research report "Quantum Dot Materials and Technologies 2018-2028: Trends, Markets, Players", this article sets out to make this point, demonstrating that QDs have now entered a time of growth, and crucially, rapid technological change.  


Quantum dots: transitions so far from the past to present

QDs' first success beyond research uses came in the display industry. Here, first high-performance Cd-based QDs were adopted in LCDs either in edge-optic or film-type implementations. The industry however has already evolved beyond that status: the edge optic has largely become obsolete since its main proponent sold its patent portfolio after IP litigations, whilst the industry has already transitioned away from Cd based towards Cd-free/less QDs with the latter expected to reach 80% market share in 2018. Note that this transition in material composition was driven largely by legislatures who finally announced a ban (effective Oct 2019) on toxic cadmium.  

The transition however still comes at a performance penalty: the alternative InP QDs still suffers from a wider emission band (FWHM) whilst having largely bridged the quantum yield (QY) discrepancy. Today, CdSe already achieves 35nm and <20nm in commercial and laboratory settings, respectively; whereas InP QDs are at c. 40nm commercially but struggle to go to 35nm even in labs.

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