Samsung licenses quantum dot LED IP from Evident Technologies: Where are They Now?


*** GNT Team Note: This announcement was significant now almost 2 and a-half years ago. But Team GNT wants to know .. “Where are they now?” 

 

201306047919620May 6, 2011 Evident Technologies Corporation and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd entered into a comprehensive patent licensing and purchasing agreement for Evident’s quantum dot LED technology. This agreement grants Samsung worldwide access to Evident’s patent portfolio for all products related to quantum dot LEDs from manufacture of the quantum dot nanomaterials to final LED production.

“We are excited that Samsung, the leader in consumer electronics, has licensed our quantum dot technology,” said Dr. Clint Ballinger, CEO of Evident Technologies. “We already enjoy a terrific working relationship and look forward to the future of this technology.”

Quantum dots are nanometer-sized semiconductor crystals that have great commercial promise in electronic applications from solar energy conversion to thermoelectrics to LEDs. Evident commercialized quantum dot LEDs with products launched in 2007.

Evident Technologies is a nanotechnology company specializing in the creation of semiconductor quantum dots. Learn more at http://www.evidenttech.com/.

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Alivisatos (UC Berkley) Appointed Samsung Distinguished Chair in Nanoscience


 

By Public Affairs, UC Berkeley | August 22, 2013

BERKELEY —201306047919620Chemist Paul Alivisatos, one of the pioneers of nanoscience, has been appointed to the Samsung Distinguished Chair in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at UC  Berkeley in recognition of his many scientific achievements.

The endowed chair, established through the support of Samsung Electronics Co., will help cement the campus’s leadership in research and innovation in an area that has great implications for many fields ranging from biology to energy, the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research announced Friday (Aug. 23). Alivisatos, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a UC Berkeley professor of chemistry, is known for his research into quantum dot semiconductor nanocrystals, clusters of hundreds to thousands of atoms with novel properties that can be applied to electronic devices and solar cells as well as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Paul Alivisatos

Paul Alivisatos, the newly named Samsung Distinguished Chair in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, in conversation with Dr. Young Hwan Kim of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, Korea, at Alivisatos’s lab on the UC Berkeley campus. A delegation from SAIT visited UC Berkeley Thursday, Aug. 22.  (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab)

Dr. Youngjoon Gil, executive vice president of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, welcomed the appointment.

“Historically, the invention of a new material can initiate a quantum leap in the development of industry,” said Dr. Gil. “Nanomaterials offer such opportunities for the electronics as well as the biosciences industry, where precise control and manipulation of energy is required. Quantum dot, pioneered by Professor Alivisatos, has established its commercial value by reproducing more realistic colors on displays. Through the establishment of the endowed chair, Samsung anticipates a closer partnership with UC Berkeley, the world’s leader in nanoscience, in exploring the commercial value of nanotechnology.”

Over the past two decades, UC Berkeley has become a brain trust in nanoscience and nanotechnology, with nearly a hundred nanoscience and nanotech researchers in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and materials science. These researchers have made major advances in understanding the nano-scale molecular motors that move materials around inside cells or manipulate DNA; creating tiny motors, lasers and photonic devices for smaller electronic circuits; creating flexible and inexpensive solar cells from nanorods; and understanding the properties of new materials such as graphene and high-temperature superconductors.

Graham Fleming, UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for research, lauded Samsung for its initiative in establishing this chair.

“The new chair helps build on our strengths in the conversation and utilization of energy on the nano scale,” said Fleming. “It is a fitting recognition of Paul’s achievements and his world-wide influence on the field of nanoscience. We look forward to continue expanding our relationship with Samsung in this area.”

Alivisatos is widely recognized for his contributions to the study of nanocrystals, ranging from control of their synthesis and fabrication to studies of their optical, electrical, structural, and thermodynamic properties. He demonstrated that semiconductor nanocrystals can be grown into rods as opposed to spheres. This achievement paved the way for a slew of new synthetic advances, developing methods for controlling the shape, connectivity and topology of nanocrystals.

Nanocrystals are typically a few nanometers in diameter — larger than molecules but smaller than bulk solids — and frequently exhibit physical and chemical properties somewhere in between. Given that a nanocrystal is virtually all surface and no interior, its properties can vary considerably as the crystal grows.

Alivisatos’s research has opened the door to a number of potential new applications for nanocrystals. These include their use as fluorescent probes for the study of biological materials and LEDs, and the fabrication of hybrid solar cells that combine nanotechnology with plastic electronics.

Flexible displays: Beyond the hype


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8+Plastic Electronics magazine editor Dan Rogers will present at the upcoming printed and organic electronics industry event LOPE-C on the reality of flexible displays. +Plastic Electronics looks behind the hype about bendy phones

Samsung's flexible display concepts have been around for some time, but encased in glass Samsung are gearing up to produce flexible, unbreakable mobile phone screens that can be bent, twisted and even folded up and put in your wallet. The South Korean tech giant reportedly has the flexible screens in the final stage of development and will be ready to ship them next year.’ Daily Mail, December 2012

Headlines about bendable phones and flexible displays have been in plentiful supply in 2012-13, as OLED developers Samsung and LG have duelled for the leading position in next-generation consumer electronics screens.

Announcements about bullish plans to launch products based on flexible OLEDs have attracted interest not only from the plastic electronics industry, but have generated excitement in the mainstream and among consumers too.

The concept of folding or rolling up a smartphone and putting it in your pocket, or wrapping the whole thing around your wrist, may seem futuristic – or far-fetched, depending on your outlook. Yet media reports are not averse to predicting such devices being in the pockets or on the wrists of consumers as soon as later this year.

These reports seem to have lost sight of the detail. Samsung and LG are indeed planning to launch new and improved OLEDs in the near-term. And some upcoming innovations in flexible displays will indeed change the face of consumer electronics. But the changes in the coming years will be steps – albeit significant ones – on the road to fully flexible devices.

Announcements

Samsung’s plans for its ‘Youm’ flexible OLED technology, announced in 2012, were to put the technology into phones later that year.

Flexible displays are in development, such as this one from the ASU, but are not near to full commercialisationThe jump from a stated plan to implement Youm, to assuming that bendy phones would appear on shelves in 2012, was made by a number of media outlets (including UK newspaper the Daily Mail – see quote above). In the end, neither was true. In November 2012, a Samsung official exclusively informed +Plastic Electronics that the manufacturing process was not yet ready. In April 2013 the company added that issues with the encapsulation technology (essentially, the flexible alternative to a rigid glass protective cover) were causing delays.

In reality it is likely that Samsung will, at best, launch a smartphone that forgoes the need for a glass cover to protect the screen. Like Youm, the plastic OLED will offer a lightweight and robust alternative to the rigid, glass-based displays that are prone to cracking – as anyone who has dropped an expensive new smartphone or tablet will know only too well.

LG has also attracted plenty of headlines for its announced intentions to launch a phone using a flexible OLED in 2013. However what LG showed at the recent Society for Information Display event in the US was a plastic display that still needs to be encased in glass.

Future

While it may offer marginal weight savings, it is hardly the fundamental change people may be expecting.

Plastic Logic is one company producing flexible displays today, using E Paper,There are options for industries wanting to enjoy the benefits or functional, bendable and shatterproof displays today. UK start-up Plastic Logic produces flexible transistors that can drive a flexible display – at the moment using e-paper (which is compatible in terms of flexibility). E Ink has also released a flexible e-paper display, called Mobius. Flexible e-paper would be a functional choice for everything from displays in smart bank cards to digital signage.

And certainly, there are lots of promising signs regarding the development of flexible displays. The encapsulation technology needed to take OLEDs out of their rigid glass covers is progressing. Once these can be introduced to manufacturing, high-end smartphone makers will boast of the benefits of a lightweight handset and shatterproof screen.

Will the glass-free OLEDs on the horizon graduate to screens wrapped round the corners of a device? And, eventually, a phone you fold up and put in your pocket? That depends not just on technology development but also on whether consumers truly want the ‘bendable phone’ that many media sources excitedly report. Just don’t expect to get one for Christmas 2013.

Dan Rogers, managing editor of +Plastic Electronics magazine, will speak further on the topic of flexible displays at LOPE-C on 11-13 June in Munich, Germany.

New project aims to lower cost of OLED lighting


201306047919620Novaled, Cynora and Regenburg University are collaborating in a new project to explore new functional materials for low-cost production of OLED lighting applications.

Current materials and manufacturing techniques increase panel costThe cyCESH project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, with total funding of €6.1 million. The research is expected to find new soluble materials for the inexpensive production of OLEDs, and increase the efficiency of OLED devices.

The new materials will make it easier for OLEDs to be printed, leading to a cheaper, simpler and faster process for their production, compared to current vacuum processes. The cost and efficiency of OLEDs are currently the most prolific problems preventing their wide adoption in the lighting market. While OLED displays are thriving, their use in lighting is facing competition from halogen and LED technology.

However, should cost of production decrease, and lifetimes improve, OLED lighting could find a niche as a large-area lighting panel for office or design purposes. The technology has the ability to become as efficient as current energy-saving light sources.

Experts

Thomas Baumann, managing director of Cynora comments: ‘Through our collaboration with Novaled and University of Regensburg, we combine, within a team of experts, a comprehensive and specific know-how and can take it to the next step in OLED development. Our consortium strives for the overall goal of developing mass-market materials and methods for production of OLEDs.’

The collaboration sees all aspects of the supply chain covered, with material development under the stewardship of Regensburg University, the subsequent synthesis and optimisation of the materials being handled by Cynora, and the application of solution-base-processed doped transport layers by Novaled.

The project officially began on June 1 2013 and will run for three years.

3M to challenge OLED displays with quantum dots


OLED TVs: on sale soon
OLED TVs: on sale soon

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 83M’s optical systems business division is to collaborate with the venture-backed company Nanosys on a new quantum-dot technology that promises to help conventional liquid crystal displays (LCDs) hold off the challenge of organic LEDs (OLEDs).

OLED televisions will be launched this year by LG Display and, in all likelihood, Samsung, while other TV companies such as Panasonic and Sony are expected to follow suit. One of the big selling points of the technology is its more vibrant representation of colors, thanks to the fact that OLEDs are direct emitters of colored light – whereas LCDs are effectively filters of white light.

In an announcement timed to coincide with the Society for Information Display (SID) 2012 “Display Week” meeting – traditionally the event where new display technologies are first reported – Nanosys and 3M said that they intend to commercialize what is known as “quantum dot enhancement film” (QDEF) technology.

“QDEF is a drop-in film that LCD manufacturers can integrate with existing production processes,” say the two companies, meaning that the technology is directly compatible with existing LCD production – where 3M’s optical films already play a major role. “It utilizes the light-emitting properties of quantum dots to create an ideal backlight for LCDs.”

Rather than actively creating light, the quantum dot films developed by Nanosys effectively work like a phosphor. When exposed to blue emission provided by a phosphor-less gallium nitride LED backlight, the dots produce narrow-linewidth red and green light, which can be combined with the original blue emission to generate a high-quality white backlight.

Atomic behaviour Because they are so tiny, quantum dots behave in a similar manner to individual atoms, rather than bulk solids. And the precise color of the light that they produce when illuminated by blue LEDs is determined purely by their size. So by tightly controlling the size of the dots, they can be “tuned” to produce either red or green light at a precise and narrow range of wavelengths.

In an LCD display, what that translates to is a white backlight with a much wider color “gamut”, meaning a much more life-like representation of images on the screen is possible. “Current LCDs are limited to displaying 35 percent or less of the visible color spectrum,” the companies say. “This means the viewing experience on an LCD is vastly different than what a person sees in the real world.”

By increasing that color range by a claimed 50 percent, the QDEF technology offers a challenge to one of the key selling points associated with OLED displays – the vivid color reproduction that results from using direct light emitters in the pixels of the display.

Jason Hartlove, the CEO of Nanosys, said: “We are working together to improve an area of display performance that has been largely neglected for the last decade. Improving color performance for LCDs with drop-in solutions will bring a stunning new visual experience to the consumer and a competitive advantage to the LCD manufacturer against new display technologies such as OLED.”

SID “Gold” award for QDEF LED-backlit TVs and monitors are now commonplace, but one of the original commercial claims for using the technology was identical to that now being heralded by 3M and Nanosys – that it would improve color gamut dramatically, compared with the white fluorescent backlights that initially dominated in LCD TVs.

As things turned out, it was not color gamut but the ability to make TVs much slimmer and lighter that propelled LED backlights into the mainstream, largely thanks to the intervention of Samsung.

And as the world’s leading producer of active-matrix OLED screens – largely for its own mobile phone and tablet offerings – Samsung has a foot in both camps when it comes to improving color representation in the next generation of TV technologies.

Interestingly, the Korean company’s venture wing – Samsung Venture Investment Corporation – led Nanosys’ series E round of financing, which raised $31 million in late 2010.

The QDEF technology was also recognized at SID’s annual Display Industry Awards ceremony earlier this week, winning the SID Gold Award in the category of “display component of the year” at the Boston conference and show.

According to 3M, the quantum-dot film being commercialized by the two firms will simply replace a similar film already found inside LCD backlights, and for display manufacturers would require no new equipment or process changes.

Global Quantum Dots Market to Grow by 54.29% CAGR


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8TechNavio’s analysts forecast the Global Quantum Dots market to grow at a CAGR of 54.29 percent over the period 2012-2016. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the increasing number of quantum dots-based products.

The Global Quantum Dots market has also been witnessing the increasing adoption of quantum dots by life sciences and biomedical communities. However, the high cost of quantum dots could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.

TechNavio’s report, the Global Quantum Dots Market 2012-2016, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the Americas, and the EMEA and APAC regions; it also covers the Global Quantum Dots market landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

The key vendors dominating this market space are Life Technologies corp., eBioscience Inc., Ocean Nanotech LLC., and QD Vision Inc.

The other vendors mentioned in the report are Nanoco Technologies Ltd., Nanosys Inc., Selah Technologies Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., Evident Technologies Inc., InVisage Technologies Inc., LG Display Co. Ltd., Microvision Inc., Microoled, Nano Axis LLC, NN-labs Inc., Nexxus Lighting Inc., QD Laser Inc., Quantum Material Corp., Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC, Solexant Corp., and Voxtel Inc.

Are Legal Battles Ahead for Samsung & LG and Will That Give the Edge to Apple in OLED’s?


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8

Apple Flexible OLED

The reports from the industry already have suggested that Apple with indeed be the first to commercially release a product featuring flexible OLED displays, and although they are certainly not without their own legal disputes with various electronics manufacturers, could this be their window of opportunity to get in first?

Before assuming these reports are accurate – there are suggestions that reports aren’t entirely telling the whole truth about this “raid”.

A spokeswoman from Samsung, Jun Eun Sun is quoted as saying “We have no reason to steal other companies’ technology, as we have the world’s best OLED technology.” LG itself has said that it didn’t report anything to police in connection with the investigation with their spokesman, Son Young Jun saying “The latest investigation is related to large-sized OLED TV panel technology, but the police have made the allegation themselves.”

Of course legal battles alone most certainly do not halt the research, development & production of such technology, and has indeed been the cause of disputes between the companies historically, but it may just be enough to allow Apple the edge. Recently they posted a job advert for a “Display Specialist to lead the investigation on emerging display technologies such as high optical efficiency LCD, AMOLED and flexible display to improve overall display optical performance.”

Flexible being the operative word here, and coupled with their patent for a new shaped iPhone with a “wraparound” display, suggest they are not just on the heels of the two South Korean giants, but firmly in the same race. Indeed they have been for some time – the public release of the Apple patent belies its date of inception – September 2011, way before Samsung’s Brian Berkeley demonstrated and announced their new flexible display. For the record, Apple pulled the job advert fairly quickly, but not before it was noticed by the tech media.

Let’s not also forget that LG are going full-steam ahead to be first to market, with plans to release their first AMOLED flexible display device in the second half of 2013. With all this cloak-and-dagger reports it really would take a company insider to tell the world the reality of what’s going on behind the scenes in the world of flexible OLED tech, and oledflexible.net never like to jump the gun on announcements, but the volume of reports coming out of Asia on a daily basis can only mean that something reasonably big will be announced soon. The burning question is – which company will be the one to make the announcement first, and which product will have the most appeal to the public?

Flexible OLED/ QLED Screen Markets to Reach $72B by 2016


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8The touted arrival this year of wearable gadgets such as computer displays strapped to wrists and in wrap-around glasses is just a step towards a bigger revolution in screens — those that can be bent, folded and rolled up.

Once freed from today’s relatively heavy, breakable and fixed glass displays, tomorrow’s devices may look very different, with screens that can be rolled out, attached to uneven surfaces, or even stretched. But there’s still some way to go.

“It becomes a product designer’s paradise — once the technology is sorted out,” says Jonathan Melnick, who analyzes display technology for Lux Research.

There is no shortage of prototypes. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics this year showed off a display screen that extends from the side of a device — but obstacles remain: overcoming technical issues, figuring out how to mass produce parts cheaply, and coming up with devices compelling enough for gadget buyers.

Screen technology — with the global small display market expected to more than double to around $72 billion by 2016, according to DisplaySearch — is still dominated by liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which require a backlight and sit between two sheets of glass, making the screen a major contributor to the weight of a device, from laptops to tablets.

“Most of the weight in a tablet is the glass structure in the display and the support structure around it to prevent it from cracking,” said Kevin Morishige, a former engineer at Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Palm.

LCD’s dominance is already under threat from lighter Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) that don’t need backlighting, are brighter, offer a wider viewing angle and better color contrast — and can be printed onto a few layers.

From Gorilla to Willow

Glass, however, is getting lighter and more flexible.

Corning, whose toughened Gorilla glass became the screen of choice for many smartphones, will provide phones with curved glass edges as soon as this year. It is also now promoting Willow Glass, which can be as thin as a sheet of paper and is flexible enough to be wrapped around a device or structure. Initially, Willow will be used as a coating for products like solar panels, but it is eventually expected to create curved products.

Corning's Willow Glass

Corning’s Willow Glass

A key selling point for Willow is more efficient production which involves so-called roll-to-roll manufacturing, like a printing press, rather than today’s more costly batch manufacturing. But the commercialization of Willow as a flexible product is some way off, James Clappin, who heads Corning’s glass technology group, told Reuters.

And glass has its limits.

“You can bend it, but you can’t keep flexing it,” said Adrian Burden, a UK consultant who has worked on several start-ups related to display technology, and holds patents in the field. This means that while glass is likely to continue to play a leading role in devices with curved displays, screens that users can bend, fold and roll will likely be plastic.

But plastic is not as robust as glass. “As soon as you introduce plastic substrates you have all kinds of issues with sensitivity to the environment,” says Burden.

Plugging the leaks 

So while OLED and plastic would seem to be companion technologies they create an extra problem when laid together: they need so-called barrier films to prevent the various layers from leaking oxygen and moisture.

“There are barrier films in all sorts of products, for example food packaging, but the challenge is that OLED is one of the most sensitive materials we follow, and so creates huge challenges,” says Lux Research’s Melnick.

Singapore-based Tera-Barrier Films, for example, has developed a way to plug leaks in the layers using nanoparticles. Director Senthil Ramadas says that after years of delays the company last month started production in Japan and aims for mass production by end-2014.

“You have several challenges in the value chain,” he said. “All these things need to be established, and only now is it coming out.”

And there’s another problem: all the materials in a bendable display need to be bendable, too — including the transparent conductors that drive current through the display. Several technologies are vying to replace the brittle and expensive Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) used in most fixed displays, including nanowires, carbon nanotubes, graphene and conductive mesh.

Some of these technologies are close to production. Another Singapore-based firm, Cima Nanotech, for example, rolls a coating of silver-based conductive ink on a sheet which then self-aligns into a web of strands a few microns across that forms the conductive layer.

It’s unlikely such shifts in the underlying technologies will yield products immediately. For one thing, “prototypes can be made,” says Melnick, “but that’s a long way from mass production as many of the processes and material in these devices face big yield and scaling issues.”

On a roll

This is gradually changing, some in the industry say, as production shifts from making parts in batches of sheets to the more efficient roll-to-roll process. “Batch is more expensive and slower than roll-to-roll, which needs new equipment and design — and takes time,” said Ramadas at Tera-Barrier.

All this requires money, and manufacturers have to be convinced to invest in the new equipment.

Even after the success of Gorilla Glass, popularized by the iPhone, Corning is having to work hard to prepare customers for Willow displays. Clappin said customers want thinner devices and easier to produce glass, but Willow requires a completely different manufacturing set-up.

“When we talk about commercializing Willow a big part of our development activity is enabling the ecosystem to handle what is essentially a brand new material,” Clappin added. “Nobody’s accustomed to working with glass that bends and moves. It’s a new material. The ecosystem needs to be trained to handle it.”

He sees demand, particularly from video gamers, for Willow-based curved screens, but remains less convinced about rollable or foldable screens. “Conformable is in the near future. As far as flexible, bendable, fold-upable goes, I see that further out and I’m not even sure that’s a viable product,” he said.

For companies with deep pockets, like Samsung, this can mean building prototypes such as those displayed at international technology shows. But that doesn’t guarantee success in selling products. Sony, for example, promoted flexible OLED displays back in 2007. “Six years later they’ve not come up with anything,” says Zhang Jie, senior scientist at Singapore’s Institute of Metals Research and Engineering. “If Samsung’s going to really drive this the application really needs to drive people and make them want it.”

This slows down the process. In late 2011, Samsung told analysts it planned to introduce flexible displays into handsets “some time in 2012, hopefully the earlier part than later,”but a year later the company said the technology was still “under development.” In an investment note last month Jefferies said that while Samsung may introduce “unbreakable” screens this year, it didn’t expect to see flexible displays in Samsung devices until 2014-15.

Ultimately, teasing out the technical problems may be only half the battle.

“This is the eternal question of the speciality materials industry,” says Lutz Grubel, Japan-based head of marketing for German glass maker Schott’s Xensation Cover 3-D glass. “You have something, a material, and you’re looking for an application. That’s the game.”

For More Information On OLED/ QLED Markets go to this Wintergreen Research Report:

https://genesisnanotech.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/quantum-dot-and-quantum-dot-display-qled-market-shares-strategies-and-forecasts-worldwide-nanotechnology-2013-to-2019/

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

 

Novel-Nano Encapsulation Technologies: A Good Business?


Q: Is there a market for novel encapsulation technologies?

The Encapsulation Paradox

In the past few years, novel encapsulation technologies have become a hot topic in the thin-film, printed end electronics communities. Many of the latest materials platforms for displays, lighting and solar panels appear to require higher performance encapsulation technologies. And in response to this apparent need, new alternatives have appeared in the marketplace; notably multilayer barrier films and conformally deposited coatings.

This sounds like the makings of a good business case. Unfortunately, recent history seems to be saying otherwise. The start-up firms that have believed in this business case have not been a happy crew. Symmorphix and (quite recently) Cambridge Nanotech have gone out of business.

Vitex has been swallowed up by Samsung. And other startups are confessing that they are no longer sure how they are ever going to make big money out of their clever encapsulation ideas.

So here is the encapsulation paradox. Some of the most exciting new thin-printed-organic technologies apparently need new kinds of encapsulation. Yet there is good empirical evidence that firms cannot make money providing these novel species of encapsulation. What is missing from this picture?

“Too Late,” The Market Cried

NanoMarkets’ analysis suggests that a big part of the problem here is the big contrast between the apparent size of the novel encapsulation market and the time that it will take to emerge. NanoMarkets has carried out detailed forecasts of the markets for encapsulation in both the OLED and thin-film photovoltaics sectors and the results are rather illustrative in this regard.

Glass endures:

At first blush, the total addressable market (TAM) for encapsulants looks quite respectable. Our projections indicate that materials for encapsulation of OLEDs and TFPV can reach about $770 million by 2015 and about $2 billion by 2019. These amounts should be more than enough to put a smile on the face of any advanced materials entrepreneur. However, there is a world of difference between the theoretically addressable market for a new material and the market that is actually serviceable.

The NanoMarkets view is that rigid glass is going to be very difficult to dislodge in the encapsulation marketplace and will be used wherever it can be used. Because of this NanoMarkets estimates the market share for non-glass encapsulation can grow from about 11 percent today, to only about 21 percent and 27 percent in 2015 and 2019, respectively.

So one question that has to be asked here is: Have the providers of the latest and greatest encapsulation materials confused the whole market for encapsulation with the part of the market they can actually reach? Could it be that their business models are based on a false idea of what the revenue potential of this market actually is?

For if one takes glass technologies out of the equation, then the markets for encapsulation suddenly look a lot less attractive. Without glass, the 2013 market value of novel encapsulation materials multilayer barrier films and conformally deposited coatings is under $2 million in OLEDs and just over $50 million in PV applications. And these market values are only expected to grow to about $135 million and $410 million, respectively, by 2019. These are not revenue numbers that can expect to entice investment into this sector.

This analysis takes on an even more cautionary tinge, if one takes into consideration the fact that NanoMarkets doesn’t even expect to achieve this combined figure of around $445 million, unless the firms in this space can concurrently improve performance (especially in the OLED sector) and reduce costs, which will be very difficult.

In other words, what we are looking at here is a market where market expectations are just not that great but the risks are fairly high. And glass systems are meeting encapsulation requirements now, will continue to do so for the near- and mid-term, and glass companies will make continual improvements to their products, too!

Time, time, time:

But the truly damning aspect of NanoMarkets’ projections in this area is not the long-term revenue projections and certainly not the technology risk, but the fact that it is going to take a long time to reach a market that any outside investor is going to treat seriously.

In the current environment, any firm or individual putting money into the encapsulation business is going to have to wait quite a few years before they will see any real return and they will have to make their investment decisions based on discounting future cash flows with high numbers for inflation, political risk, etc., etc.

In fact, NanoMarkets is already hearing from the encapsulation start-ups that this issue is becoming one that is of serious concern. What these firms are actually saying is that they can’t charge prices high enough to stay profitable because end-user markets are too cost-sensitive, and thus the novel encapsulation technologies have been unable to gain a foothold in the market. They also say that they can’t yet generate cash flows large enough to grow organically and build large-scale manufacturing plants for their new materials, thereby reducing the cost through economies of scale.

But turn this tale of woe around and an investment story emerges. The encapsulation firms can’t get profitable because they can’t find investors who can relieve them of the necessity of having to charge a price for their materials that reimburses them for CapEx and R&D in a short period of time. Such investors would also let them build capacity and tap into economies of scale in advance of volume demand.

A full-scale manufacturing plant for advanced encapsulation systems, would surely cost tens of millions of dollars and take many years to recover. Scaling up is a shaky value proposition, and few investors are willing to take the risk!

What is to be Done? Four Strategies

None of this is encouraging. And it cannot help but leave encapsulation companies wondering whether they should “die well or die badly.” Beyond hyperbole, there are, NanoMarkets believes, four options available to today’s generation of novel encapsulation companies.

Get out now:

Some firms may opt out of the business altogether. NanoMarkets believes that there will be more market exits and bankruptcies by small firms in the encapsulation business during the 2013 and 2014. Few encapsulation firms are likely to choose this option willingly, and for obvious reasons.

Alternative products:

Moving into other markets. This is not an uncommon strategy for struggling start-ups in the advanced materials sector. The point here is that most such firms begin with a core materials technology and then try to find an application that will fit the technology. We can think of one company, for example, that started in the lighting business, shifted to the drug delivery business, before settling on the solar panel business. Ultimately it was acquired by a large chemical company!

This is an approach that we think firms in the space that we are discussing should be considering. But we don’t think it will be that easy. While encapsulation technologies might find new homes in the packaging of other electronics products or in food packaging, both of those markets are crowded with much lower-cost competition. But there may always be niches worth exploring.

A more viable option may be available to encapsulation firms whose expertise tends towards the equipment/process side of the business. Equipment expertise is more widely needed, and there may be any number of markets that the firm could target. For example, Beneq already works in various end-markets; high performance encapsulation of OLEDs and PV is only one of the many applications in which its ALD processes could be used. While shifting into new markets may not be an easy strategy for struggling encapsulation firms, it does hold out the prospects of a fresh start and big profits. . . someday.

Strategic investments:

It may be possible for some encapsulation firms to attract strategic investments from large materials or electronics firms who are in need of a good new encapsulation technology for their products. Here the economics surrounding the investment is quite different to other kinds of investment. In this case, the investor may be basing its calculations of return on enhanced cash flows from its core products; displays and solar panels. Or the investor may be a large materials company that simply has the resources to withstand some very lean years and believes in advanced encapsulation enough not to mind.

At the margin, a strategic investment morphs into a large firm buying a small firm for its technology and some smaller encapsulation firms may thus see the strategic investment option more in terms of hanging on long enough to get acquired. This may make a lot of sense for some of them; but, of course, it assumes that they don’t run out of cash while waiting for their savior.

The problem with this approach is that as time drags on, the deals that can be struck become more and more unfavorable to the smaller company. In the end, strategic investment can look quite close to liquidation.

Give up on big revenues:

Finally, an encapsulation start-up may opt to become a small R&D company, obtain some development contracts and survive. This is a classic small businessscenario. It is not compatible with a “flashy” VC business with big IPO plans, but it may be better than nothing. And there is always the hope that such firms may grow big some day. By way of an example, there were many very small telecom component firms that grew into substantial businesses during the telecom boom of two decades ago.

Frankly, none of the options that we have set out above are that attractive and we can understand why many firms in this space may want to follow their bliss. But the reality is that some of these small firms show little likelihood of finding it based on existing strategies and goals.

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