3M Showcases High-Performance Solutions for Consumer Electronics Industry at CES: QDEF (Quanum Dot Enhancement Film)


ces-765LAS VEGAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–3M Electronics is exhibiting some of the company’s industry-leading solutions for the consumer electronics industry during the 2014 International CES, taking place Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas. CES attendees are also invited to get a free 3M Privacy Screen Protector applied to their iPhone® 4S or iPhone® 5 Tuesday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to noon (PST) while learning more about the 3M technologies below at booth number 30459.

Screen privacy and protection products

The latest in screen privacy for mobile and desktop devices from 3M will be showcased and in particular, a key solution to the emerging data security risk of corporate information access on mobile devices. A proprietary micro-louver technology from 3M lets the user see a clear image, while showing a dark, blank screen to anyone viewing the display from a side angle. 3M screen privacy and protection solutions are available for tablets, smartphones, laptops, and monitors, as well as for managing light in industrial and automotive applications. Other booth displays include a larger-than-life 3M™ Privacy Screen Protector, and the full line of 3M™ Privacy and Screen Protector products, plus the newly-introduced 3M™ Easy-On Privacy Filters for iPads®, with an interactive attachment wall. Learn more at www.3mscreens.com.

Dot enhancement film

Devices such as smartphones, tablets and televisions can be made lighter, brighter and more energy efficient with 3M™ Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF). The new product from 3M allows up to 50 percent more color than current levels in liquid crystal display (LCD) devices. 3M has teamed with Nanosys, Inc. to produce the 3M QDEF solution.

Presently, LCDs typically are limited to displaying 35 percent or less of the visible color spectrum, resulting in a viewing experience that can be vastly different than what a person sees in the real world. The wider color gamut displays available through the new 3M film let consumers enjoy more visceral, more immersive, and truer-to-life color. Learn more at 3M.com/color. Nanoco nano_0

Touch screen films

3M recently announced new films to help touch screen manufacturers and integrators meet the growing demand for touch-enabled consumer electronics.

  • 3M™ Patterned Metal Mesh Film enables new design possibilities, such as curved and foldable touch screens, allowing OEMs and ODMs to create the next generation of touch-enabled smartphones, notebooks and tablets.
  • 3M™ Patterned Silver Nanowire Film combines the expertise of two leading technology and manufacturing companies – 3M and Cambrios Technologies Corporation – to provide the quality and volume that touch screen manufacturers demand. The flexible film can conform to angles and rounded surfaces, enabling next-generation curved and rollable touch sensors.
  • 3M™ ITO Film and 3M™ Advanced ITO Film offer excellent optical transparency, high conductivity and product quality at competitive prices.

3M plans to ramp up its global touch sensor film manufacturing capacity to more than 600,000 square meters per month, in aggregate, to support the growing demand for consumer touch-enabled devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, all-in-ones (AIO) and monitors. Learn more at 3MTouch.com/films.

Touch displays and systems

3M showcases its latest multi-touch solutions for interactive digital signage applications, including a new 42-inch multi-touch display, large-format multi-touch systems and downloadable multi-display/multi-touch software. Learn more at 3M.com/multitouch.

Design-enabling materials for a new generation of electronic displays

3M will also showcase a variety of industry-specific materials that help maximize the functionality, reliability and productivity of electronic displays, enabling brighter, lighter, thinner, state-of-the-art devices. 3M Optically Clear Adhesives (OCAs), Liquid Optically Clear Adhesives (LOCAs), Electronic Assembly Tapes, and Contrast Enhancement Films will be featured as part of the 3M Electronics display. Based on core 3M adhesive technology, 3M Optically Clear Adhesives are precision-manufactured to virtually eliminate common adhesive visual defects such as bubbling, which can distort the display and diminish consumer satisfaction with their device.

3M OCA’s meet certain specific display bonding requirements with the unique ability to customize the functionality, reactivity and performance of the adhesive. 3M’s collaborative culture and bench-to-bench approach, combined with electronics materials expertise, breadth of product portfolio and alignment with key consumer electronics industry leaders provides many innovative answers to demanding industry needs.

About 3M Electronics

3M Electronics provides a wide array of innovative products and systems that enable greater speed, brightness and flexibility in today’s electronic devices, while addressing industry needs for increased thinness, sustainability and longevity. Using the most recent R&D advances in materials and science, 3M offers technology, materials and components to create exceptional visual experiences; enable semiconductor processes and consumer electronics devices, and enhance and manage signals. 3M Electronics enables the digitally enhanced lifestyle of today and tomorrow. Learn more at: http://www.3Melectronics.com.

About 3M

3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious products. Our culture of creative collaboration inspires a never-ending stream of powerful technologies that make life better. 3M is the innovation company that never stops inventing. With $30 billion in sales, 3M employs 88,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.3M.com or follow @3MNews on Twitter.

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What Are Quantum Dots, and Why Do I Want Them in My TV?


Quantum dots glow a specific color when they are hit with any kind of light. Here, a vial of green quantum dots are activated by a blue LED backlight system.

Quantum dots glow a specific color when they are hit with any kind of light. Here, a vial of green quantum dots are activated by a blue LED backlight system.

If you look at the CES 2015 word cloud—a neon blob of buzz radiating from the Nevada desert, visible from space—much of it is a retweet of last year’s list. Wearables. 4K. The Internet of Things, still unbowed by its stupid name. Connected cars. HDR. Curved everything. It’s the same-old, same-old, huddled together for their annual #usie at the butt-end of a selfie stick.

But there at the margin, ready to photobomb the shot, is the new kid: quantum dot. It goes by other names, too, which is confusing, and we’ll get to that in a minute. Regardless of what you call it, QD was all over CES this year, rubbing shoulders with the 4K crowd. You may have heard people say it’s all hype. Those people can go pound sand. Quantum dot is gonna be the next big thing in TVs‎, bringing better image quality to cheaper sets.

A Quantum-Dot TV Is an LCD TV

The first thing to know is quantum-dot televisions are a new type of LED-backlit LCD TV. The image is created just like it is on an LCD screen, but quantum-dot technology enhances the color.

On an LCD TV, you have a backlight system, which is a bank of LEDs mounted at the edge of the screen or immediately behind it. That light is diffused, directed by a light-guide plate and beamed through a polarized filter. The photons then hit a layer of liquid crystals that either block the light or allow it to pass through a second polarized filter.

Where a Nanosys quantum-dot film sheet (QDEF) fits into an LCD display.

Before it gets to that second polarizer, light passes through a layer of red, blue, and green (and sometimes yellow) color filters. These are the subpixels. Electrical charges applied to the subpixels moderate the blend of colored light visible on the other side. This light cocktail creates the color value of each pixel on the screen.

With a quantum-dot set, there are no major changes to that process. The same pros and cons cited for LCD TVs also apply. You can have full-array backlit quantum-dot sets with local-dimming technology (Translation: good for image uniformity and deeper blacks). There can be edge-lit quantum-dot sets with no local dimming (Translation: thinner, but you may see light banding and grayer blacks). You can have 1080p quantum-dot sets, but you’re more likely to see only 4K quantum-dot sets because of the industry’s big push toward UltraHD/4K resolution.

But a Quantum-Dot TV Is Different

In a quantum-dot set, the changes start with the color of the backlight. The LEDs in most LCD TVs emit white light, but those in quantum-dot televisions emit blue light. Both types actually use blue LEDs, but they’re coated with yellow phosphor in normal LCD televisions and therefore emit white light.

Quantum dots can be arranged along the entire back of the display in a film insert or in a "quantum rail" alongside an edge-lit system. This is QD Vision's quantum rail insert alongside a TCL TV.

Here’s where the quantum dots come in. The blue LED light drives the blue hues of the picture, but red and green light is created by the quantum dots. The quantum dots are either arranged in a tube—a “quantum rail”—adjacent to the LEDs or in a sheet of film atop the light-guide plate.

Quantum dots have one job, and that is to emit one color. They excel at this. When a quantum dot is struck by light, it glows with a very specific color that can be finely tuned. When those blue LEDs shine on the quantum dots, the dots glow with the intensity of angry fireflies.

“Blue is an important part of the spectrum, and it’s the highest-energy portion—greater than red or green,” explains John Volkmann, chief marketing officer at QD Vision, which makes quantum dots for several TVs and monitors. “You start with high energy light and refract it to a lower energy state to create red or green… Starting with red or green would be pushing a rock uphill.”

Quantum dots are tiny, and their size determines their color. There are two sizes of dots in these TVs. The “big” ones glow red, and they have a diameter of about 50 atoms. The smaller ones, which glow green, have a diameter of about 30 atoms. There are billions of them in a quantum-dot TV.

This is a batch of red quantum dots being prepared in a 70-liter vat. It's lit with an ultraviolet flashlight, which is what makes the dots glow red.

If you observed quantum-dot light with a spectrometer, you would see a very sharp and narrow emission peak. Translation: Pure red and pure green light, which travels with the blue light through the polarizers, liquid crystals, and color filters.

Because that colored light is the good stuff, quantum dots have an advantage over traditional LCD TVs when it comes to vivid hues and color gamut. In a normal LCD, white light produced by the LEDs has a wider spectrum. It’s kind of dirty, with a lot of light falling in a color range unusable by the set’s color filters.

“A filter is a very lossy thing,” says Nanosys President and CEO Jason Hartlove. Nanosys makes film-based quantum-dot systems for several products. “When you purify the color using a color filter, then you will get practically no transmission through the filter. The purer the color you start with, the more relaxed the filter function can be. That translates directly to efficiency.”

So with a quantum-dot set, there is very little wasted light. You can get brighter, more-saturated, and more-accurate colors. The sets I saw in person at CES 2015 certainly looked punchier than your average LCD.

That Sounds Expensive

There’s no doubt that quantum-dot TVs will cost more than normal LCDs—especially because they’re likely to be 4K sets. But quantum-dot is getting a lot of buzz because its cheaper than OLED.

In most peoples’ eyes, OLED TVs are the best tech available. But they’re expensive to build and expensive to buy—you’re looking at $3,500 to as much as $20,000—and the manufacturing process differs in several key ways. That’s a big reason LG is the only company putting big money into building them.

Conversely, quantum-dot sets don’t require overhauling the LCD fabrication process, and they produce a much wider color gamut than traditional LCDs. They’re closer to OLED in color performance, and they also can get brighter. That’s important for HDR video.

“The attraction to the OEM is that this is a pure drop-in solution,” says Nanoco CEO Michael Edelman, whose company makes quantum-dot film in a licensing deal with Dow Chemical. “They remove a diffuser sheet in front of the light-guide plate and replace it with quantum-dot film. Nothing in the supply chain gets changed, nothing in the factory gets changed. They get, in some cases, better than OLED-type color at a fraction of the cost.”

As you’d expect, companies making film-based and tube-based solutions are touting each approach as superior. QD Vision claims its tube-based approach is easier and cheaper to implement, and it can boost the color performance of cheaper edge-lit LCD sets. According to QD Vision, the oxygen-barrier film needed for film-based dots is costly, which explains why Nanoco and Nanosys are partnering with Dow and 3M for that film.

Film-based suppliers say their method has the upper hand due to “light coupling,” or the ability to feed all that quantum-dot light directly into a light-guide plate. The film layer also purportedly works better with full-array backlight systems, which will be used in a lot of UHD and HDR TVs.

Super! So This Is OLED for Less Money?

Not entirely. Color gamut is important, but it’s only one aspect of picture quality. Because these are LCD sets, they won’t have the blackest blacks, super-wide viewing angles, and amazing contrast of OLED. And while the extra brightness and saturation makes onscreen colors really pop, all that luminance may create light bleeding.

Here's a sheet of quantum-dot film on top of a blue LED backlight system. The red and green quantum dots combine with blue light to produce a "pure" white that can be efficiently channeled by the set's color filters.

Some quantum dots also contain cadmium, which is toxic at high levels—think “factory emission” levels rather than “sealed tube or film in your TV” levels. Still, there are health and environmental concerns, especially if a bunch of quantum-dot TVs end up in landfills. The European Union restricts the use of cadmium in household appliances. Some quantum-dot producers are marketing their product as cadmium-free. QD Vision, which supplies quantum dots for TCL’s new flagship 4K TV, Sony’s well-reviewed 2013 Triluminos sets, and Philips and AOC monitors, still uses cadmium.

“There are only a couple of materials that deliver on the promise of quantum dots,” says QD Vision’s Volkmann. “The other is based on indium. Cadmium is superior with respect to delivering higher-quality color, meaning a broader color gamut. But also much more energy-efficient at converting blue light to other forms of light that allow you to fill out that spectrum. The folks making indium-based solutions like to paint cadmium as the bad guy… Cadmium is under observation by different regulatory agencies around the world, but it turns out indium is too.”

Nanosys, which produces both cadmium and cadmium-free quantum dots, agrees that cadmium-based dots are more efficient.

“Cadmium-based materials have a narrower spectral width,” says Nanosys’s Hartlove. “More pure color. And what that means is the other things the system has to do in order to keep that color pure, the burden on the rest of the system is reduced.”

Hartlove also says that cadmium may be a greener solution. The cad selenide crystal used in quantum dots isn’t as toxic as pure metallic cadmium, and the efficiency of their color-producing ways has benefits.

“The type of power we generate in the US from coal-based power plants throws cadmium into the atmosphere,” says Hartlove. “That’s one of the byproducts of burning coal. And you look at the net cadmium content over this whole lifecycle, and it turns out that cadmium sequestration is actually net better for the environment.”

Why Isn’t Everybody Calling It “Quantum Dot”?

Each manufacturer with a quantum-dot TV set seemingly has a different name for the technology. Samsung likes “nano-crystal semiconductors.” Sony has new Triluminos TVs that “incorporate the same benefits as quantum dots.” LG, TCL, Hisense, and Changhong are actually calling it quantum dot, which is nice.

“The term quantum dot is generic,” says Hartlove. “Each company kind of wants to grab this for their own and brand it their own way. That will probably lead to some consumer confusion… but I think most of the industry will converge on a way to describe this technology.”

There are slight differences between the technologies everyone’s using, but they’re variations on a theme. The differences center on whether the TVs are edge-lit or back-lit with quantum dots, and whether the systems use cadmium- or indium-based quantum dots.

Who Is Making Quantum Dots?

At this stage, three companies are the big players in the quantum-dot TV landscape.

QD Vision specializes in glass-tube “edge-lit” components, and its systems will be found in TCL TVs and monitors from Philips and AOC. It supplied the quantum-dot component for Sony’s 2013 Triluminos sets, but Sony recently ditched the company in favor of another.

Nanoco focuses on cadmium-free, film-based quantum dot systems. They have a licensing deal with Dow Chemical, and Dow is currently building a factory in South Korea to ramp up production of quantum-dot film. Nanoco’s cadmium-free technology will be found in LG’s quantum-dot TVs in 2015.

Nanosys is another film-based producer that has partnered with 3M on the film-sheet tech. It makes both cadmium-based and cadmium-free quantum dots. They are the company behind Amazon’s HDX 7 display and the Asus Zenbook NX500, and Samsung licenses the cadmium-free quantum-dot tech in its new SUHD 4K sets from Nanosys. Nanosys is also working with Panasonic, Hisense, TCL, Changhong, and Skyworth on future TVs.

When Can I Get One, and What Will It Cost?

The new TVs showcased at CES each year usually start hitting stores in the spring, but some higher-end models don’t arrive until the fall. That’s a little bit of a wait, but it’s probably for the best—there are UltraHD content-delivery complications to work out, anyway.

The TV we know the most about in terms of pricing is TCL’s 55-inch H9700, and we still don’t know much. It’s already available in China for around $2,000 U.S., and TCL representatives at CES hinted that it will be close to that mark when it hits the U.S.

Expect that to be at the low end of the quantum-dot price bracket; LG, Samsung, and Sony generally have pricy TVs, and similar 4K LCDs from last year—minus the quantum dots—went in the $2,000 to $3,000 range for a 55-incher. For this initial wave of quantum-dot TVs, most MSRPs will probably fall between $2,500 to $4,000 for a 55-inch 4K set.

3M leads innovation surge in the global nanotechnology market


1-3M Desalination-Through-NanotechnologyThe global nanotechnology market has the potential to be applied to a wide and diverse range of goods, thanks to its ability to enhance many existing products. In the first years of nanotechnology development governments around the world championed this innovative technology by funding research projects that were deemed to be of a high risk to investors.

While governments still play a major part in funding nanotechnology research, this technology now has many commercial uses, which has led to lower risks and much higher rewards for companies. Therefore, the private sector is now becoming more involved in the research and development of nanotechnology, with 3M being at the forefront of the commercial application of this technology.

As there are so many potential uses for nanotechnology in the medical, electrical and chemical markets 3M has spent the last few years perfecting a number of nano-based products. One of the innovations that 3M has pioneered is the new lightweight carbon monoxide filtration system that has the ability to enhance air quality, using the air respiratory system. Thanks to this new automation system around 95% of carbon monoxide is filtered out.

3M has been working on creating a drug delivery system that guarantees a painless experience utilising nanotechnology. They have achieved this by using over 1000 micro-needles to inject the drugs, with 3M hoping that in the future many drugs can be injected at one time, bypassing the need for multiple injections.global nanotechnology market

Another nanotechnology-based innovation is the Patch Plus Primer, which is currently the only primer product on the market that can dry quickly, firmly and evenly in one simple step. Even though this product may not be as revolutionary as the medical-based nano technology, it does show that many varied markets can benefit from nanotechnology.

3M is the largest nanotechnology company in the world, with over US$30 billion of revenue being recorded in 2013 and having over 85,000 employees that work for the company worldwide.

A key reason for the success that 3M is enjoying in the nanotechnology market is the Time To Think policy they champion. This policy gives employees of the company 15% of their working time to work on their own personal projects that they are passionate about and believe will be of potential value to 3M. It is clear that the global nanotechnology market is providing great benefits to companies, such as 3M, that are willing to invest in this burgeoning technology.