A Quantum Leap In Display Quality From Quantum Dots: 3 Players Set to Dominate Emerging Markets


Q Dot Displays 1415226538155Quantum dots are improving screens worldwide, but their cadmium content worries some

Long the object of ivory tower fascination, quantum dots are entering the commercial realm. Factories that manufacture the nanomaterials are opening, and popular consumer products that use them are hitting the market.

Behind the gee-whiz technology are three companies with three different approaches to producing and delivering quantum dots. The firms—Nanosys, QD Vision, and Dow Chemical (Nanoco) — are racing to capture a share of the emerging market, but there may not be a place for everyone at the finish line.

Developed at Bell Labs in the 1980s, quantum dots are semiconducting inorganic particles small enough to force the quantum confinement of electrons. Ranging in size from 2 to 6 nm, the dots emit light after electrons are excited and return to the ground state. Larger ones emit red light, medium-sized ones emit green, and smaller ones emit blue.

Quantum dots have been proposed for all sorts of applications, including lighting and medical diagnostics, but the market that is taking off now is enhancing liquid-crystal displays (LCDs).

According to Yoosung Chung, an analyst who follows the quantum dot business for the consulting firm NPD DisplaySearch, last year saw the introduction of the first commercial display products to incorporate quantum dots: Bravia brand televisions from Sony and the Kindle Fire HDX tablet from Amazon. This year, the Chinese company TCL introduced a quantum-dot-containing TV and Taiwan’s Asus shipped a quantum dot laptop.

What quantum dots bring to displays is more vibrant colors generated with less energy. The liquid crystals in conventional LCD screens create colors by selectively filtering white light emitted by a light-emitting diode (LED) backlight, which typically runs along one edge of the screen. But that white light is broad spectrum and not optimal for producing the highly saturated reds, greens, and blues needed for lifelike images.

Jeff Yurek, a marketing manager at Nanosys, says the color performance of LCDs is only 70% of what is provided by more expensive organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays.

Q Dot Displays 1415226538155

Quantum-dot-enabled displays incorporate a backlight that gives off blue light, some of which the dots convert into pure red and green. The three colors combine into an improved white light that the LCDs draw on to create pictures that are almost as vivid as those achieved with OLEDs.

Moreover, because no light is wasted, energy costs are lowered. That’s important, according to Yurek, because the display accounts for half of the power consumed in a mobile device. By incorporating Nanosys’s quantum dots in its new HDX tablet, Amazon was able to cut display power consumption by 20%, he claims.

“Going from the HD to the HDX, they made a thinner, lighter, higher resolution, more colorful display with longer battery life,” Yurek says.

On the strength of demand from companies such as Amazon, Nanosys has been investing in its quantum dot plant in Milpitas, Calif. According to Yurek, the company is now completing an expansion that will more than double its output. Soon, he says, the firm will have the capacity to supply dots for 250 million 10-inch tablet devices a year.

Also expanding is QD Vision, a Lexington, Mass.-based firm founded on chemistry developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its dots can be found in Sony’s Bravia line and are set to appear in TVs made by TCL, which is the third-largest TV maker after Samsung and LG.

Seth Coe-Sullivan, QD Vision’s chief technology officer and cofounder, explains that his firm and Nanosys use the same basic manufacturing technique: They decompose organocadmium and other compounds at high heat in the presence of surfactants and solvents. The resulting monomers nucleate and form nanocrystals. Size can be controlled stoichiometrically or by thermally quenching the growing crystals.

Where the two firms differ is the way in which they embed quantum dots in a consumer product. Nanosys works with companies such as 3M to create quantum-dot-containing films that are placed between the LED backlight and the LCDs in tablets and other displays. For example, the Asus quantum-dot-containing laptop, known as the NX500 Notebook PC, incorporates the 3M/Nanosys film.

QD Vision, in contrast, encapsulates its quantum dots in a polymer matrix inside a glass tube that is placed directly against the LED backlight. It’s a hot environment but one that the dots can withstand, Coe-Sullivan says, because of how they are synthesized and packaged.

QD Vision manufactures its dots in Lexington and ships them to a contractor in Asia to be packaged in the tubes. The contractor is in the process of quadrupling capacity to 4 million tubes per month, which is enough, Coe-Sullivan says, to supply a quarter of the world’s TV industry.

ON FIRE
The display in Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX tablet is enhanced with quantum dots.
Credit: Amazon

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He argues that his firm’s tube approach is suited to TVs and other large displays, whereas a film works better with smaller tablets and laptops. So far, marketplace adoption bears this contention out. “I honestly don’t feel our products compete with each other,” Coe-Sullivan says.

Dow, however, is throwing down the gauntlet against both approaches. Using technology licensed from the British firm Nanoco, Dow is developing cadmium-free quantum dots. It is betting that the display industry is uneasy with the cadmium content of dots from Nanosys and QD Vision and that it will flock to a cadmium-free alternative.

In September, Dow announced that it will use the Nanoco technology to build the world’s first large-scale, cadmium-free quantum dot plant at its site in Cheonan, South Korea. When the plant opens in the first half of 2015, Dow says, it will enable the manufacture of millions of quantum dot TVs and other display devices.

Dow and Nanoco haven’t disclosed the active material in their quantum dots and declined an interview with C&EN. They acknowledge that the dots contain indium but insist that they aren’t indium phosphide, as their competitors claim.

The use of one heavy metal versus another might not seem to make a big difference environmentally. But in the European Union, cadmium is one of six substances regulated by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances, or RoHS, directive. Cadmium cannot be present in electronics at levels above 100 ppm without an exemption.

Larger amounts of cadmium are allowed in LED-containing displays under an exemption that expired on July 1. Late last year, in a consultation process moderated by Oeko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology), a German nonprofit, the major quantum dot players made their cases for why the expiring exemption should or shouldn’t be extended.

Nanosys, QD Vision, 3M, and others lobbied for extension to at least 2019, arguing that the benefits of cadmium-based quantum dots outweigh any potential harm. One big reason is that they lower energy consumption by devices, meaning less use of coal in power plants and fewer of the cadmium emissions that can come from burning coal.

In April, Oeko recommended to the EU that the exemption be extended—but only to July 1, 2017, in light of emerging technology that could reduce or eliminate the need for cadmium quantum dots. Industry executives expect the EU to adopt the recommendation by the end of the year.

In their submissions to the consultation process, Dow and Nanoco argued that no extension is necessary because cadmium-free dots are already here. In fact, the Korea Times recently reported that LG and Samsung plan to launch cadmium-free TVs in 2015 with quantum dots from Dow.

Coe-Sullivan says he’ll believe it when he sees it. “The idea that the product is just around the corner has been around for a long time,” he observes. Cadmium-free displays from LG and Samsung were expected to appear at the recent IFA electronics trade show in Berlin, he says, but ended up being a no-show.

The reason, according to cadmium dot proponents, is that indium-based dots have about half the energy efficiency and a narrower color range. “Cad-free today does not have the same performance as cadmium-containing quantum dots,” Coe-Sullivan says. QD Vision and Nanosys also contend that indium-containing quantum dots aren’t environmentally superior, pointing to indium phosphide’s presence on a list of substances being considered for inclusion in RoHS.

Meanwhile, Coe-Sullivan notes, QD Vision has moved away from the metal-alkyl precursors and phosphorus-containing solvents that can make quantum dot manufacturing hazardous. It now uses metal-carboxylate precursors and more benign alkane solvents. Last month, the shift won it one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.

Chung, the DisplaySearch analyst, is watching the jousting between the cadmium and cadmium-free camps with interest, although he isn’t ready to predict a winner yet. Display makers are concerned about cadmium, he notes, yet they also have qualms about the lower efficiency of cadmium-free quantum dots.

Chung may not know which technology will prevail, but he is sure about one thing. “Now is the time for quantum dots to penetrate the market,” he says.  

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society
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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.

UPDATE: Nanoco Confirms LG Deal As Nanosys Retracts Samsung Claim


GreenerLEDLONDON (Alliance News) – Nanoco Group PLC on Friday said South Korean electronics group LG Electronics has signed a deal with The Dow Chemical Co for the supply of Nanoco’s cadmium-free quantum dots for its Ultra HD TV range, as rival Nanosys issued a retraction to information on its deal with Samsung Electronics which sent shares in Nanoco plunging lower earlier this week.

The new range of TVs from LG was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. The deal confirms a previous announcement from Nanoco that LG would use its quantum dot technology on its 4K TV line-up.

Nanoco did not provide any financial details on the contract. Nanoco nano_0

Quantum dots are nanocrystals made of semiconductor materials, which can be used in solar cells, LEDs and diode lasers. Nanoco’s quantum dots do not contain cadmium – a heavy metal that is restricted under European and other territories environmental legislation.

The confirmation of the deal with LG comes after shares in Nanoco dropped heavily earlier this week after Samsung Electronics unveiled new TVs at the CES event which were said to use technology from Nanoco’s rival Nanosys. Nanoco shares dropped around 18% after the Nanosys announcement on Tuesday.

On Friday, however, Nanosys issued a retraction to that statement, clarifying that its deal with Samsung only covers the patents on its quantum dot technology, not its products or technology.

Broker Liberum said this retraction is in line with its suggestion earlier in the week that Samsung will source the quantum dots for its next generation TVs in-house and reinforces its view that Samsung is likely to sign a deal with Dow for quantum dot supply in future.

“We are delighted that LG has entered a formal partnering agreement with Dow, which has the scale and expertise to meet LG’s quantum dot requirements,” said Nanoco Chief Executive Officer Michael Edelman.

Nanoco shares were up 1.3% to 118.00 pence on Friday morning.

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.

Nanoco (Quantum Dot Nano-Materials Manufacture) Ready to Roll


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Quantum dots developer’s Dow deal a game-changer for digital displays.

The Manchester University spin-off develops and makes quantum dots, tiny, fluorescent semiconductors used to make next-generation electronics. Nanoco’s IP-protected manufacturing method avoids cadmium, a heavy metal banned in many countries, and its trademarked NanoDot technology is used in several applications; solid state lighting, solar panels, even some medical devices.

As we originally predicted, it is in digital displays where the biggest breakthrough has come thanks to a landmark global licensing deal with US giant Dow Chemical (DOW:NYSE) at the start of the year (23 Jan). Quantum dot LED (QLED) displays are set to become the next big trend in consumer electronics.

NANOCO GROUP - Comparison Line Chart (Rebased to first)

Market potential

A report in March from technology analyst Wintergreen Research predicts the QLED display market will hit $6.4 billion by 2019 from a standing start just a couple of years back. The report backs up our theory that once manufacturers learn to integrate quantum dots into products they will be falling over themselves to do so thanks to the technology’s lower energy use and cheaper manufacturing cost.

According to Wintergreen, Samsung (005930:KS) reckons QLED displays could cost half as much as LCD or organic LED (OLED) panels. It also estimates 80% better energy efficiency, for thinner devices with a sharper display.

TVs are a starting point, but expect QLED in smartphones and tablets too as device manufacturers desperately seek ways to defend market share in high margin top-of-the-range products.

As analysts at house broker Canaccord Genuity point out, an increasing number of industry participants share Dow Chemical’s and Nanoco’s confidence that quantum dots are on the cusp of widespread adoption in a $100 billion display market.

Sony (6758:T) already has launched the world’s first quantum dot TV using cadmium-based technology from Nanoco’s privately owned rival QD Vision. But since sales will be barred in many major markets, the US and European Union, mass market products look destined to follow the cadmium-free technology route. Nanoco is already expanding its factory in Runcorn, Cheshire from an annual 25kg capacity to 70kg, beyond initial plans to expand it to 40kg. It is rumoured to be eyeing a brand new set-up in Asia post the Dow deal, with Korea the hot tip.

Liberum sees year to July royalty-based revenues of £4 million rising to £4.6 million in 2014, before the really exciting sales flood in, hitting over £100 million inside five years from a licensing/royalty business model similar to that of UK chip champ ARM (ARM). That would imply over £90 million pre-tax profit thanks to 88% operating margins.

With cash burn running at around £5.5 million a year, its £12.5 million of cash pile should mean Nanoco is unlikely to tap investors for fresh funds. Liberum sees the shares hitting 260p over the next year, while Canaccord is even more optimistic, setting a 275p target price. That could be just scratching the surface of the shares’ longer-term profits potential.

 

Quantum Dot and Quantum Dot Display (QLED): Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, Worldwide, Nanotechnology, 2013 to 2019


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8

WinterGreen Research announces that it has published a new study Quantum Dot and Quantum Dot Display (QLED) Market Shares, Strategy, and Forecasts, Worldwide, 2013 to 2019. The 2013 study has 221 pages, 80 tables and figures. Quantum dots will cascade into the marketplace. They offer lower cost, longer life, and brighter lighting.

 

According to Susan Eustis, “The commercialization of quantum dots using kilogram quantity mass production is a game-changer. High quality, high quantity and lowest price quantum dots increase product quality in every industry. The rate of change means speeded products cycles are evolving.”

 

Once manufacturers learn to integrate higher efficiency luminescent quantum dots into their products, each vendor will need to follow or dramatically lose market share. This level of change brought by quantum dot and quantum dot displays (QLED) represents a new paradigm that will create new industries, products and jobs in science and industry. The list of possible quantum dot applications is ever expanding. New applications are waiting for the availability of more evolved quantum dots.

Quantum Dot LED (QLED) commercial focus has remained on key optical applications: Optical component lasers are emerging as a significant market. LED backlighting for LCD displays, LED general lighting, and solar power quantum dots are beginning to reach the market. Vendors continue to evaluate other applications.

Quantum dots QDs are minute particles or nano-particles in the range of 2 nm to 10 nm diameter. Quantum dots are tiny bits of semiconductor crystals with optical properties that are determined by their material composition. Their size is small to the nanoparticle level. They are made through a synthesis process. QD Vision synthesizes these materials in solution, and formulates them into inks and films. Quantum Dot LEDs (QLED) enable performance and cost benefits.

The quantum dot cannot be seen with the naked eye, because it is an extremely tiny semiconductor nanocrystal. The nanocrystal is a particle having a particle size of less than 10 nanometers. QDs have great potential as light-emitting materials for next-generation displays with highly saturated colors because of high quantum efficiency, sharp spectral resolution, and easy wavelength tenability. Because QDs convert light to current, QDs have uses in other applications, including solar cells, photo detectors, and image sensors.

 

QLED displays are anticipated to be more efficient than LCDs and OLEDs. They are cheaper to make. Samsung estimates that they cost less than half of what it costs to make LCDs or OLED panels. QLED quantum dot display is better than OLED. It is brighter, cheaper, and saves more energy. Energy-savings is a strong feature. Its power consumption is 1/5 to 1/10 of the LCD’s Samsung offers now. Manufacturing costs of a display are less than half of OLED or LCD. It has a significantly longer life than the OLED.

 

QLED quantum dot display uses active matrix to control the opening and closing of the pixels of each color. Quantum dots have to use a thin film transistor. Emission from quantum dots is due to light or electrical stimulation. The quantum dots are able to produce different colors depending on the quantum shape and size used in the production of materials.

 

Dow Electronic Materials, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and Nanoco Group plc (AIM: NANO) have a global licensing agreement for Nanoco’s cadmium-free quantum dot technology. Under the terms of the agreement, Dow Electronic Materials will have exclusive worldwide rights for the sale, marketing and manufacture of Nanoco’s cadmium-free quantum dots for use in electronic displays.

 

Market Participants

  • Evident Technologies
  • InVisage
  • LG Display
  • Nanoco Technologies
  • Nanoco Group / Dow Chemical
  • Company (NYSE: DOW)
  • Nanoco / Tokyo Electron
  • NanoAxis
  • N-N Labs
  • Nexxus Lighting
  • Quantum Materials Corp
  • Samsung
  • Sigma-A

 

Quantum Dot Company (Nanoco) Meteoric Rise


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Shares in AIM 100-quoted technology company Nanoco have quite comfortably beaten every other stock on the market for the past three months and analysts think there could be more to come.

Nanoco Technologies: http://www.nanocotechnologies.com/

 

Manchester-based Nanoco makes what are known as ‘quantum dots’, or nano particles, which are used in televisions, lights and solar cells. More specifically, big name manufacturers of LCD TVs and LED lighting are beginning to use quantum dots in their products because they improve colour quality.

To illustrate this, in February Sony announced details of its new HD Bravia LED TVs which happen to use quantum dots from Nanoco’s competitor, QD Vision. Analysts viewed this development as generally positive for Nanoco because Sony’s adoption of quantum dots in its displays was seen as a ringing endorsement of the technology.

For Sony, however, the good news is limited because QD Vision’s nano particles are made using a heavy metal called cadmium, which is regulated to the point of being banned in some countries. So Sony will only be able to sell its new TVs in certain markets. The good news for Nanoco and its investors is that its quantum dots don’t use cadmium.

Janardan Menon and Eoin Lambe from Liberum Capital, concluded that the Sony development was “not particularly negative” for Nanoco and said they though that the likes of Samsung and LG were highly unlikely to use quantum dots containing cadmium.

Market re-rating

Nanoco originally floated on AIM in May 2009 after reversing in to then-cash shell Evolutec. Back then its revenues stood at just short of £2 million, with pre-tax losses of £0.78 million. By 2012, those revenues had risen only modestly to £2.95 million but losses had widened to £4.35 million. So what’s changed?

Its stellar recent performance began last December after a comparatively muted 12 months where the stock struggled to break out from a narrow range that peaked in March 2012 at 80p. By late February 2013 the shares were touching 199p and although they have retraced slightly, the stock remains around 100p ahead of where it was three months ago.

Behind that meteoric rise was an announcement in January that Dow Chemical Materials – part of the global giant Dow Chemical – had agreed to licence Nanoco’s quantum dots for use in TVs. Dow is a major supplier of electronic materials to the global display industry and is planning to boost manufacturing capacity in Asia to supply these products to its customers in the region. Full production is slated to begin in the first half of 2014.

While no financial details were released (they are expected later this year), analysts are agreed that the impact of this licensing deal will be significant for Nanoco. John-Marc Bunce at Nomura Code said it was likely that Nanoco would have sought “a significant multimillion dollar upfront licensing fee” for the global exclusive manufacturing rights and that the announcement should be seen as “financially significant”.

Liberum Capital described it as “a game changer”, with major potential customers like Samsung and LG likely to move much faster in adopting its quantum dot technology in their displays due to confidence in Dow’s high volume manufacturing capabilities. In response the broker raised its price target from 160p to 260p and maintained a strong buy recommendation on the stock.

In addition, Nanoco’s contribution (estimated at £10 million) to the capex required to establish the new production facilities may not need to be pulled from its current cash pile of around £15 million. Liberum reckons the costs should be covered by customer funding, customer pre-payments or from future royalty cash flows.

Consensus view

With a market cap of £366 million, Nanoco’s valuation has plainly lost touch with its fundamentals, with analysts setting price targets based somewhere between 20 and 25x 2016 earnings. House broker Canaccord Genuity claim that Nanoco is “a genuinely unique asset” with technology that could prove truly disruptive to the $100bn LCD market and as such warrants a ‘strategic valuation’. Its 275p price target is based on 20x estimated FY16 earnings – based on the assumption there will be no contribution from the Dow deal until FY15. Thereafter it estimates that revenues will grow fourfold in year one.

But not everyone is as bullish. Nomura Code, another broker, offers a more conservative view, raising its price target to 150p and predicting that the Dow deal could signal a short term peak in Nanoco’s valuation. Thereafter, its analysts “expect calculations of the timescales and real financial impact to potentially put a more restrained view on Nanoco’s near term value”.

Overall, there is a consensus view that Nanoco’s Dow deal will transform the company over the medium term and that other industry partnerships are likely to follow. After a three month surge, investors may now be waiting for more financial details, more deals and more revenue before driving the share price further. Nanoco’s interim results are due on 18 March.

The Rise of the Nanoco (NANO) and the efficiency game – Quantum Dots in Solar, LED’s and LCD TV’s


Original article By Charlie Hayter PUBLISHED: 23 Jan 2013 @ 14:41

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Note to Readers: “Nanoco” has been making some significant headlines recently. As noted in this article, there are some very good reasons for that, most recently, the announcement of the JV Alliance with DOW Chemical (Electronics). It is noted that there are still some significant risks in both the cost and scale-up inputs yet to come, as Nanoco (and others) move forward to scalable commercialization. Another significant risk is the mass production of heavy-metal free (cadmium) QD’s.   There seems to be an assumption as to a “cost” per gram that will still remain high and a process of manufacture that will “limit” the amount of nano-materials available to be incorporated into existing product development and commercialization.

We wonder however, like the comments of “Ken G.” at the end of this article, if indeed there are not “others” out there developing H.M free, low cost and mass producible Quantum Dots that will dramatically change the risk/ reward investment equation. Cheers!   BWH

Quantum Dots were discovered in 1980 by Alexei Ekimov, and have been playing an ever more important role in tech advances for televisions and solar cells, as well as a host of applications further away from commercialisation. The unique properties of quantum dots allow the photonic emissions to be tuned by the size of the dot and this has meaningful benefits to solar cell efficiency and LCD power consumption, as well as bringing the colour array of LCD/LED into the OLED league potentially at a much lower cost. There are a number of Companies involved in this space, Nanosolar (privately held) – focuses on Quantum Dot CIS Solar Cells, Nanosys & QD Vision (privately held) concentrating on TV displays and LEDs, and Nanoco (LSE:NANO) concentrating on solar with Tokyo Electron and TV displays with other unnamed Asian partners, which announced today its licensing agreement for distributing cadmium free quantum dots for the display market with DOW Chemical.

For Nanoco, this follows on from stake building by Henderson pre-Christmas, an initiation of coverage by Liberum with a TP of 160p on the 16th of Jan and upgrade today to 260p, an upgrade today by Canaccord to 265p and finally the first commercial display exhibited by Sony in conjunction with QD Vision at the start of this year.

Announcement and Take

Nanoco announced today a global licensing agreement whereby DOW Electronic Materials will have exclusive worldwide right to market and manufacture Nanoco’s Quantum dots for use in electronic displays, with Nanoco receiving an undisclosed royalty payment. DOW Electronic Material will build a facility in Asia. The capacity has not been disclosed.

It looks like the Runcorn facility will be put on hold and it is not clear whether electronic displays include Diodes alongside the LCD/LED segment.

Quantum Dots – A bit of science

Quantum dots are small crystals that emit light of varying colours depending on the size of the crystal. Generally the smaller the crystal, the harder it is to produce, and the higher the frequency it emits. So a small crystal will emit blue light and a larger one red light.

Applications 1 – Solar

The major technological battle in solar has been between the flexible, low weight and efficiency thin Film vs the cumbersome, higher efficiency Crystalline silicon. In 2008 Thin Film was all the rage with sky high Polysilicon prices and bets were on Thin Film gradually taking market share. Firstsolar had a cost per Watt that was 50% below polysilicon competitors and an efficiency of c.10%, compared to crystalline silicon technologies at roughly 15%. Now, the cost per Watt for Firstsolar sits at around $0.67 and the average efficiency of its modules at around 12.7% compared to crystalline silicon technology at approximately $0.75 and an efficiency of 16-17%.

The relative catch up of crystalline silicon in terms of cost has been mainly due to the falling polysilicon price coupled with the increasing economies of scale. Breakthroughs, in terms of efficiency, have been made with anti-reflective layers (stopping light bouncing of the cell surface – analogous to a cats-eye), selective doping, and thinner printing of the silver conductors on the cell surface or burying them altogether.  However the theoretical limit to single junction solar cells/modules is constrained by the Schockley-Quiesser limit to 33%.

The Schockley-Queisser limit comes about due to the solar spectrum, i.e. the light emitted from the sun and the bandgap of the material being used to convert it to electricity. With our sun, the optimum bandgap is about 1.4eV, and silicon is chosen due to its close approximation to that, 1.1eV, also taking into account its properties as a conductor. The theoretical limit with single junction crystalline silicon is about 29% as the bandgap doesn’t match the optimum point due to the trade off for better conductivity and less electron hole recombination. Simply put, in standard solar cells, a high energy photon comes in 2eV and kicks off an electron, leaving the other 0.9eV as heat and so limiting the efficiency.

There are a few methods to counteract this, such as multi-junction cells. They (mostly GaAs) provide band gaps across at multiple points across the spectrum to maximise the theoretical efficiency. Essentially they vertically stack different materials with different bandgaps to capture more of the light. An infinitely layered multi-junction cell has a theoretical limit of 86%. At the moment these cells are only used in satellites because of their high cost due to the complex process of depositing multiple layers.

There is another way of breaching the single junction limit of 33% by using Quantum Dots, as they can emit multiple electrons from a single photon. As such the theoretical efficiency can be increased to 42% for single junction solar modules. Nanosolar, a Californian based Google funded venture, has reached a laboratory efficiency of 17.1% with its CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Di-Selenide) product, but bear in mind laboratory efficiencies take 5 plus years to translate 50% of their advances into commercial production.

Application 2: TV’s

The turmoil that has been the history of televisions is a story of ever more violent upheavals and rapid technological shifts. Cathode rays have been made obsolete by plasma’s and LCD’s, and now flexible OLED’s have set the challenge to hybrid LED/LCD’s.

LCD’s provided lower costs, thinner screens and better colours compared to CRT’s, and OLED’S did the same to LCD’s whilst eliminating the backlight . Finally hybrid LCD/LED TV’s, either backlit or side-lit with their respective advantages, incorporated the low energy consumption by using LED’s whilst maintaining the filtering element of the LCD crystal displays. The threat of OLED’s and its better colour rendering has reared its head, and is being sold as a premium due to its cost but isn’t gaining market share.

The race has all been about slimmer, sexier and more extras – like a combination catwalk and page 3 model. LCD’s and their hybrid LED/LCD’s have an estimated 70% market share in 2012 from less than 5% in 2005. OLEDS have started to make an appearance but are priced at a significant premium – for example the 55inch Samsung OLED sells for just over £6000 compared to LCD’s and their variants at £1000-1500. Even though there is a distinctive price premium, OLED’s are easily degraded by water and continued use – specifically with the blue colour OLED (losing 50% of effectiveness over five years at eight hrs usage per day). Quantum Dots also have their problems, although not insurmountable, by being oxidised readily in air.

The plan for OLED’S is to follow the cost curve lower, but yet again the disruptive element of quantum dots could change the game. The concept was displayed earlier this month by Sony, where a gallium nitride blue LED light passes through a layer of Quantum dots and then out via the LCD display. The advantages over the traditional side-lit or backlit white LED being a colour scale comparable with OLED’s, power savings and potential cost savings – so an OLED quality TV that doesn’t break the bank. Another advantage of the quantum dot model is that old LCD fabs can be modified to include it instead of a dramatic overhaul with specialised deposition equipment as in the case of OLED’s. Clearly this is where DOW is positioning itself.

Application 3: LED’s

LED’s are gaining market share across the world in the traditional lighting segment as well as being an integral part of the LCD/LED hybrid display. At present white colour light is made in two ways, either through phosphorous doped blue LED’s that stretch out light spectrum to give the appearance of white light, or by combining Red, Green and Blue diodes. The problem with the RGB combination is that it costs a lot – 3 diodes instead of one that is modified, whilst phosphor doping leaves a large spike in the blue end of the visible spectrum and gives an unnatural hue to end viewing.

You’ve guessed it, Quantum dots can be married with the blue gallium nitride diodes, to give off truer colour. Nanosys simply has a Quantum dot lens that covers the blue light and gives off more natural light.

With TV’s however, the plan is to incorporate the Quantum Dots as a film across the back of the TV. Most broker notes haven’t highlighted this, but surely it would be better to just have Quantum Dot enhanced LED’s in the background. This could have effects on sales/volumes estimated so far.

Nanoco

The Company is Manchester based spin-off of its home city’s university, alongside Imperial College. The Market cap is nearing £300m with 2011 revenues of £2.6m, so is this premium justified or is the Company too hot to touch right now – are we back in the days of Fuel Cell Companies, such as ITM in 2006-7.

Financials

The problem is placing an estimate on revenues. At present the Company sells most of its product as milestone payments for about £2m per Kg. Most brokers are estimating prices in the region of £200k-50k per Kg declining through to 2017, with a volume ramp increased from 100-250kg in 2014 through to 12,000kg – or FY ‘17 revenues of £150m after taking into account an estimated 25% royalty payment. As for earnings, a pie in the sky guess of 30%, meaning a forward ’17 multiple of 6.7.

So what does this mean for market share of display televisions. According to the Company an estimate of 0.7g of quantum dots per 60 inch TV can be used – so a 40% market penetration in 2018 would require 12,000kg – which is what Dow Chemicals two largest clients, LG and Samsung, roughly hold in the high end TV market. Definitely plausible, but a lot of assumptions on price, royalty and production.

Let’s look at it another way – with yet another load of estimates. What about the replacement costs for what’s out there already. Estimating the LED cost for a 40inch TV (about 750 LEDs) and using low range costs off various websites, the total white SMD (surface mounted design) LED costs would be roughly $23. With blue LEDs the cost would be $8 and the quantum dots $28 – assuming £50,000 per Kg and not including assembly. So a bit of an extra cost but nothing compared to the CAPEX required for OLED’s and yet the same visual result– and it’s not clear whether this 0.7g estimate is for entire films of QD’s or for coated or “lensed” diode’s. Just consider this a thought experiment before getting lambasted on the bulletin boards.

Nanoco’s USP for mitigating risks

There are three major linked risks to Nanoco: Competition, scaling production and the Cadmium free saga.

Nanoco has produced Cadmium free Quantum Dots by complying with the ROHS (Restriction of Hazardous Materials Directive, which have given it a head start with regards to competitors QD Vision and Nanosys who don’t. Samsung have abandoned their Cadmium quantum dot campaign for this reason.

The issue with scaling a nascent product could also restrict market take up. Nanoco says it’s molecular seeding process is more appropriate than its competitors dual injection, as temperature control is more easily maintained – but you have to take their word for that, and DOW has. So it looks like Nanoco has won the first round.

Industry News and potential M&A

The solar space has picked up yet again with a whole new wave of MA. Q-cells and its Hanergy Hanwha sale, Hanergy and Miasole and its stake in Apollo solar, and finally Oerlikon buyout by Tokyo Electron, who have the agreement for a solar ink with Nanoco. But Nanoco’s ink has only reached efficiencies of 8% in respect to Nanosolar’s NREL approved 17%. So with solar it’s probably long way off, leaving the lighting and the screen display market as the most immediately cash generative.

You have to ask the question will it be taken out? Private equity has both of its major competitors. Diode companies, such as Cree, Epistar and Osram, have a lot to lose by not being a first mover in this market, but they’re electronics Companies not Chemical Companies. Furthermore, Dow has already taken the bait saying “we want this product” proving its tastiness to the majors – and could make more moves for further distributorship rights, i.e. to LED makers if the present agreement doesn’t include it.

Conclusion

A risky nascent tech that has clearly huge market potential: Richly priced but for these reasons. But strategically it is a sitting duck for Chemical Companies, and, most likely for Dow to consolidate, although this could be heavily premature. However, the news of DOWS involvement is a strong catalyst for earlier revenue generation as well as being a confirmation of the technologies scalability and potential, although the lack of clarity on the specifics of the deal are somewhat irksome. Bear in mind the potential for scale up delays on the downside and lack of revenue visibility, and on the upside, announcements for the LED market primarily as well as the solar space. Looks like a buy, hold and buy on dips if or as enthusiasm wanes – but this is a highly speculative stock with uncertainties galore, so something for the growth section of your portfolio that you can afford to lose – maybe prudent to wait for a pull back before entry, but then you might miss out.

Ken G says:

I believe one company you left off your list has the solutions to many of the issues regaurding mass productionn and scale of economy.They are a publically listed company QTMM and were recently covered by Frost and Sullivan recieving the “2012 North American Enabling Technology Award for Advanced Quantum Dot Manufacturing”.

Quantum Materials Corp First-Tetrapods Synthesis with over 92%> Full Shape First-Tetrapods with over 92% Uniformity of Size First-Tetrapods w/precise control of arm width & length First-Tetrapods Eco-Friendly Green Synthesis First-Tetrapods Continuous Flow Chemistry Process First-Tetrapods Mass Production by Continuous Flow Wide Variety of Group II-VI Tetrapods; Cd or Cd-Free Dec. 2012: New Tetrapod with 80%> Quantum Yield Best Tetrapod for Commercializing New Applications Best Company for Nanotech Joint Venture Partnering Proprietary QD Printed Electronics Technologies Precision printed lithography, gravure, inkjet printing Roll to Roll QD Printing at high speed on flexible substrates

QMC is the parent company for Solterra Renewable Technologies who are developing 3rd generation solar using quantum dots..

Solterra Renewable Technologies Solterra Renewable Technologies developing Non-REE Flexible Thin-Film Photovoltaic Tetrapod Quantum Dot Solar Plants. Our objective is to become the first bulk manufacture of high quality tetrapod quantum dots and the first solar cell manufacturer to be able to offer a solar electricity solution that competes on a non-subsidized basis with the price of retail electricity in key markets in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

 

 

Dow Chemical and NANOCO Enter Into Agreement for Quantum Dots


Dow to sell, market and manufacture cadmium-free quantum dots for LCD displays

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 823/01/2013 Manchester

Philadelphia, PA and Manchester, UK,January 23, 2013 – Dow Electronic Materials, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and Nanoco Group plc (AIM: NANO) today announced they have entered into a global licensing agreement for Nanoco’s cadmium-free quantum dot technology. Under the terms of the agreement, Dow Electronic Materials will have exclusive worldwide rights for the sale, marketing and manufacture of Nanoco’s cadmium-free quantum dots for use in electronic displays.

The agreement brings together Nanoco’s world-leading technology with Dow’s large-scale manufacturing capability and well-established sales, marketing and distribution network. Dow Electronic Materials is already a major supplier of critical electronic materials to the global display industry.

The financial details of the agreement are not being disclosed though Nanoco will receive royalty payments related to Dow’s sales of cadmium-free quantum dots. Nanoco will continue to provide any technology advances to its cadmium-free quantum dot technology throughout the lifetime of the agreement and participate with Dow in the marketing and technical support of these materials.

Dow intends to build production capacity in Asia where it has extensive manufacturing capabilities to supply high-performance materials to its customers in the display and semiconductor-related segments. Full commercial production is expected to begin in the first half of 2014.

“We believe that Nanoco’s cadmium-free quantum dots will become a new standard in the display industry owing to their ability to significantly improve the color performance of LCD displays both cost-effectively and by avoiding the use of heavy metals,” said C.G. Park, Global Business Director, Dow Electronic Materials. “When coupled with Nanoco’s technology, Dow’s deep technical, engineering and industry knowledge in films, LCD, LED, and OLED display segments brings our customers an unmatched portfolio of materials solutions.”

Michael Edelman, Nanoco’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We are delighted to sign this agreement with Dow Electronic Materials. This agreement is transformational for the quantum dot industry and a significant endorsement of Nanoco’s cadmium-free quantum dot technology. With Dow’s production expertise and deep customer relationships, display makers can begin to plan their quantum dot production requirements with further confidence.”

Cadmium-free quantum dots “CFQD™”


In many regions of the world there is now, or soon to be, legislation to restrict and in some cases ban heavy metals in many household appliances such as IT & telecommunication equipment, Lighting equipment , Electrical & electronic tools, Toys, leisure & sports equipment. In Europe, under the RoHS Directive, the restricted metals include cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb). Maximum concentrations are 0.1% or 1000 ppm for lead or mercury and 0.01% or 100 ppm for cadmium – measured by weight in homogeneous materials such as liquids, plastics or coatings. There are similar regulations in place or soon to be implemented worldwide including China, Korea, Japan and the US.

Cadmium and other restricted heavy metals used in conventional quantum dots is of a major concern in commercial applications

For QDs to be commercially viable in many applications they MUST NOT CONTAIN cadmium or other restricted elements. Due to the versatility of quantum dots, many customers would like to exploit their unique properties in applications where it is not permissible to use conventional heavy metal containing NanoDots™. Nanoco has developed and is currently extending the range of restricted metal free quantum dots. These materials show bright emission in the visible and near infra-red region of the spectrum.

Nanoco’s molecular seeding method has been adapted for other compound semiconductor materials, which have similar optical properties to those of CdSe quantum dots (such as the family of III-V materials), but do not contain heavy metals.

A world leading developer and manufacturer of quantum dots

Nanoco Group PLC and its operating subsidiary Nanoco Technologies Ltd partner major R&D and blue-chip industrial organisations in the development of applications incorporating semiconductor nanoparticles, “quantum dots”.

Nanoco Technologies is unique in the nanomaterials market as a company that manufacture large quantities of quantum dots. Our molecular seeding process for the bespoke manufacture of these nanoparticles on a commercial scale is protected by worldwide patents.

Nanoco Technologies is the only manufacturer currently able to supply production quantities of these nanoparticles which do not use a regulated heavy metal. We are the only manufacturer able to respond to orders for large quantities of bespoke quantum dots, and we are leading the way in customising the functionalisation of quantum dots enabling chemical linkage for biological and other specific uses.

The bulk manufacture of quantum dots provides our partners with the platform to develop a wide variety of next-generation products, particularly in application areas such as display technology, lighting, solar cells and biological imaging.

Nanoco Technologies’ research and manufacturing headquarters was established in Manchester (UK) in 2001. The company currently operates facilities in the UK and Japan.

About this Site
This is the corporate website of Nanoco Technologies Ltd. Please make use of the navigation provided to find out more about our products and their applications. This site also contains useful information for prospective partner organisations, employees and investors, as well as visitors with an academic interest in our research, and general readers who would like to find out more about the fascinating subject of quantum dots.