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.

 

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Quantum Dot Markets: Emerging Commercial Technologies


NANOSPHERESPublished: August 14, 2013 Category: Advanced Materials Emerging Electronics

 

 

NanoMarkets believes that Quantum Dots (QDs) have good potential to be a dominant large display format technology in the near term, but will take some more time to find commercial applications in the small display segment. In addition, NanoMarkets believes that in the near to mid-term, the lighting industry is likely to witness a good number of commercial launches, particularly in the solid-state lighting (SSL) segment, in which QDs have the potential to replace LED phosphor-based lighting solutions.

Downstream suppliers of QD raw materials are likely to expand their manufacturing facilities in order to meet the growing demand for QDs from consumer electronics producers, particularly TV manufacturers, as well as research facilities and some SSL-based lighting solution providers.

The QD market can be broadly classified into two segments:

Displays employing QD technology in large (TVs) and small formats (smartphones, tablets, etc.) Although QD-based TVs have begun to emerge commercially, it will take some time for the market to realize their full potential. Meanwhile, small display formats are likely to test the commercial viability of QD-based solutions in their commercial products.

Solid-state lighting solutions, where QDs have begun to find applicability in personal electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and exterior signage. However, certain pitfalls with regard to tuning the color range, producing a true white color, and high costs have limited the application of QDs in home and commercial lighting setups.

NanoMarkets expects the U.S. to be at the forefront of QD-related research activities, as evident from the presence of a wide network of QD research-based start-ups and the number of collaborative deals that some of these start-ups have struck with established raw materials suppliers and OEMs, particularly in the consumer electronic display segment.

QD TVs Emerge, While QD-Based Smartphones and Laptops Have Yet to Gain Commercial Acceptance

Large display segment: QD-based solutions have made significant inroads in large format displays such as TVs, primarily because of the versatile applicability of QDs in a wide range of display devices combined with their better color production, color purity, and power efficiency.

Large format QD-based display solutions are mostly licensed to OEMs by a few innovative start-ups, such as QD Vision, Nanosys, Nano Photonica, and Nanoco Group.

An early entrant, QD Vision, is likely to lead the market. The company has strong collaborations with several leading TV manufacturers. Two of its patented technologies hold significant potential:

• Using currently available QD technology for displays that require a backlight source, Sony has incorporated QD Vision’s proprietary Color IQ technology in its 55-inch Triluminous brand of LCD TVs.  These QDs emit pure green and pure red light and have superior color reproduction capabilities compared to those found in most commercially available TVs.

• A quantum dot light emitting diode (QLED) is a direct-emissive display technology that is likely to do away with the requirement for an underlying substrate and backlight source. The technology is currently on the verge of commercialization and is likely to find application in next-generation electronic displays because of its proven superiority to organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) in terms of reduced manufacturing costs, better power efficiency, and the ability to emit pure colors.

In addition to Sony, other notable consumer electronics players that are vying for a sizable share of the large format QD display segment include:

• Samsung, which is currently working in collaboration with Nano Photonica to incorporate the latter’s proprietary S-QLED technology, which seems to promise low cost and versatility across all display sizes, into TVs that should reach the market in late 2014 or early 2015.

• LG, which has also been working with multiple entities that have patented QD technologies, such as Nanosys and QD Vision; however, there are uncertainties regarding the timeframe for commercial launch of any QD-based products.

• Sharp, which has reportedly been working on QD technology; however, nothing concrete has been officially confirmed by the company. It is a general concern among manufacturers to alter existing processes in order to accommodate commercial production of any product based on a new technology.

The same applies to the adoption of QD technology. In order to address such manufacturing concerns, Nanosys, in collaboration with 3M’s Optical Systems Division, has developed proprietary Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF) technology that is designed to replace the traditional LCD backlighting unit. This technology therefore offers TV manufactures a readymade solution for incorporating QDs into their existing manufacturing facilities with minimal incremental cost.

Despite rumors of a significant extended product development time, 3M has indicated that it expects to commercially roll out the QDEF-based solutions for OEMs offering TVs, smartphones, and tablets by the end of 2013. Due to the adaptive nature of the technology within the existing LCD manufacturing framework, QDEF could potentially replace other competing phosphor-based technologies and OLEDs in the next generation of TVs.

Small display segment: The flexibility and high energy efficiency of ultra-thin film QDs make these nanomaterials potentially valuable for small displays. However, despite this strong potential (including that of technologies such as QDEF (patented by Nanosys)), only a few commercial QD-based products have been developed for this segment. Some of the barriers to entry to this segment, which limit the participation in this industry, include the dominance of OLED technology in the market, the longer time required for commercialization of these products, and lack of initiatives to set up large-scale manufacturing facilities.

A few notable players pursuing the small display strategy include:

• Osram, which is one of the few suppliers of QD backlighting solutions (through its MicroSideled brand) that offer minimal color loss and high power efficiency for personal electronic devices, such as tablets, ultra-books, and smartphones.

• Sony, which is one of the few electronic OEMs that currently offers its proprietary QD-based display (Triluminous) in its Xperia range of smartphones and Vaio range of laptops. The entry of established players in the small display segment will likely spur additional research efforts and increase the scope of possible commercial launches.

 

Key concerns in the display industry: QDs are likely to face stiff competition from OLEDs, a technology in which some of the leading OEMs, such as Samsung, have already invested heavily. It is expected that Samsung and other OEMs will require some time to recoup their investments before shifting to a new technology such as QDs.

Some of the key business concerns in the display industry regarding QD-based solutions are:

• The role of start-ups and their IP positions,

• The race among OEMs to secure licensing deals, and

• The verified performance improvements that QDs provide compared to OLEDs.

The QD supplier community is typically comprised of technology start-ups with IP rights that either license their products to OEMs or directly sell to research facilities. Consumer electronics OEMs are likely to generate the maximum demand for QDs in the coming years. Thus, it makes sense for QD providers holding IP positions to work in collaboration with established raw material suppliers to the electronic display industry or directly with the OEMs, which typically have large distribution networks and marketing prowess.

Clearly, companies that hold IP positions in QD materials are likely to depend heavily on OEMs and other big raw material suppliers to gain market visibility.

However, firms such as QD Vision and Nanosys will have a significant advantage over other players because of their innovative product lines, which are flexible enough to serve different display segments. Moreover, with the commercial success of QD technology, established electronic display manufacturers are likely to select such strong suppliers in order to secure their QD raw material base. OEMs will, in fact, compete with one another to strike exclusive deals with leading QD material suppliers. Although product profiles are likely to expand over time, the competitive pressure will lead to some level of consolidation, with only the financially strong players emerging as successful suppliers of QD materials to the display industry.

While compared to OLEDS, QDs offer the manufacturing advantage of fitting into the existing backlighting units of LCD TVs; QDs must also offer dramatic performance enhancements over OLEDs in order to attract investment. Long product lifetimes and cost-effective large-scale manufacturing are likely the key factors that will make QD technology successful in the display industry in the near future.

Future outlook for the display industry: In the next two-three years, QDs are likely to dominate the LCD backlighting TV segment, while it will take four-five years to witness the commercial entry of large display products based on direct-emissive (pure QD) technologies, such as the QLED technology developed by QD Vision, that can be applied across a wide range of display formats, including ultra-thin products.

Although OLEDs are to some extent comparable to QDs in terms of their versatility, smart customization moves from QD material suppliers, such as those made by Nanosys with its QDEF technology, have the potential to place QDs at the forefront of next-generation large display products that are likely to hit the market in the mid-term. Moreover, the intent of big raw material suppliers, such as Dow Electronic Materials (DEM) and 3M, to serve the display segment with QD products in a big way should be considered a positive move by other OEMs and suppliers.

Other players are likely to follow suit, given the likely commercial launch of QD-based solutions from DEM (in collaboration with Nanoco Group) in the first half of 2014 and 3M (in collaboration with Nanosys) by the end of 2013. NanoMarkets believes that the large display manufacturers, such as Sony and Samsung, will play a significant role in the commercialization of QD products, although they are likely to make smaller investments in the QD space compared to those made in OLED technology.

Even so, NanoMarkets expects that commercialization in the large display segment will progress at a faster rate than that in the small display segment, in which manufacturers are likely to carefully gauge the market potential of QDs and follow policies similar to those adopted by the established players, such as Sony and Samsung.

QD-Based Solid State Lighting on the Verge of Commercialization, but Little Impact in Other Lighting Categories Solid-state lighting (SSL) segment:

In the solid-state lighting (SSL) segment, QLEDs hold significant promise in terms of commercial success, because QLED-based lighting solutions can be applied on flexible surfaces and offer better efficiency, a wider color range, and better color saturation than other competitive products, such as LED phosphors. In addition, the high costs associated with OLED manufacturing have kept this technology out of the reach of residential and commercial consumers, a fact that can actually play in favor of QLEDs in the near future.

Energy-saving cost benefits, low toxicity, and the ability to provide true incandescent light make QD-based SSLs a strong contender for new SSL solutions and potential replacements for existing LED phosphor-based SSLs.

As in the display segment, QD Vision has a significant first-mover advantage in the SSL segment. As early as 2009, the company demonstrated its patented ‘Quantum Light’ QD–based SSL technology in collaboration with Nexxus Lighting Inc., which incorporated the technology in its commercially available ‘Array’ series of lamps. QD Vision’s ‘Quantum Light’ technology, which offers better energy savings and a longer shelf-life than conventional halogen lamps, is ideal for downlight solutions typically used in commercial and residential settings.

While QD Vision heads the pack of QD solution providers, there are others that are likely to make their presence felt in the SSL domain with proprietary QD-based solutions:

Using NN Crystal’s proprietary QShift Coral technology, Renaissance Lighting has commercially launched downlight solutions that can be precisely controlled to emit pure light of a particular color.

Pacific Light Technologies, which is solely focused on developing toxic material-free QDs for the SSL industry, is likely to attract consumer attention once it is commercially launched.

Wisys Technology Foundation, working in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, has also developed a proprietary QD-based SSL solution that is ready for market testing. These early advances should ideally incentivize other developers of QD-based SSL solutions to push their products from the research lab into consumers’ hands.

An increase in the number of QD-based offerings is critical for the success of the technology in the lighting sector, given that currently there are only a handful of organizations offering commercially available QD-based SSL products. It must be noted, however, that successful commercial launches of QD-based lighting solutions also depend heavily on the extent of the financial support received by the research organizations developing QD-based solutions.

Recognizing this fact, the U.S. government, through the Department of Energy (DOE), is providing financial grants to QD-based projects in order to move laboratory products to the commercial launch stage.

Some grant receivers include:

• The University of Buffalo, which is developing high-efficiency colloidal QD phosphors, and

• The University of California, which is developing QD phosphors for SSL applications.

Other lighting segments:

QD technology also has significant advantages over currently available LCD and OLED technologies in terms of better image performance and power efficiency in applications such as projectors, video walls, and digital signage. Trenton Systems is one firm that sees potential for QDs in such applications. The company is planning for the possible introduction of a QD-based video wall.

However, there are uncertainties with respect to the adoption rate of QD technology in these niche lighting segments, primarily due to the high product costs and the need to change existing manufacturing processes.

 

Key concerns in the lighting industry:

Although some QD material suppliers have achieved a head start in the SSL segment, there are reasons why a majority of the QD-based research activities have shied away from this segment.

The display industry has two key concerns about QD-based solutions:

• The expensive manufacturing processes for commercial products and

• The attractiveness of the business segment.

Commercial manufacturing processes for QD-based solid-state lighting solutions remain expensive and it will be some time before economies of scale can be achieved. This should prompt the development of cost-effective techniques for manufacturing general purpose lighting products.

In addition, the incremental performance benefits that QDs provide compared to conventional lighting solutions, such as CFLs and LEDs, will also be important factors deterring the rate of adoption of QDs by the lighting industry at large.

The competition for research dollars with other segments, particularly the lucrative display industry, is another major factor affecting the development of QD-based lighting solutions.

Hence, a successful foray into SSL and other residential and commercial lighting solutions will depend significantly on several key factors, including the development of cost-effective mass production capabilities and favorable government mandates for the adoption of energy efficient measures, such as the U.S. government’s emphasis on replacing 100 watt and 75 watt incandescent bulbs with 60 watt and 40 watt bulbs.

 

Future outlook for the lighting industry:

NanoMarkets believes that, in the lighting segment, SSL is likely to provide the maximum number of innovative opportunities for start-ups such as QD Vision and other QD materials producers.

It will be necessary, however, for major lighting industry OEMs to make such products commercially available. NanoMarkets is also of the opinion that some of the U.S. government-assisted QD-based SSL research projects are likely to gain commercial significance in the near to mid-term; however, other lighting segments are likely to wait and watch for radical innovations that will offer potential manufacturers a viable route to break into commercial markets.

At the same time, NanoMarkets thinks that QD materials firms should also look beyond traditional business segments and target niche lighting categories, such as projectors, video walls, and digital signage – business segments in which QD solutions can address the significant issue of high energy consumption.

QD Material Suppliers Likely to Benefit in the Mid-Term QD materials form the fundamental building blocks of any QD device.

These materials primarily consist of either heavy metal (HM)-based semiconductor materials or non-heavy metal (NHM)-based semiconductor materials. Typically, NHM-based QDs find use in biomedical applications, while HM-based QDs have been traditionally used in all other applications. However, growing concerns over the use of cadmium have led researchers to shift their focus on NHM-based QDs.

HM-based QD materials: QDs have been traditionally based on HM semiconductor materials, such as cadmium telluride, zinc sulfide, lead selenide, and zinc cadmium selenide. The supplier base remains fragmented, with OEMs having the option to choose from several patented QD materials.

The success of material suppliers is likely to be determined by their ability to mass produce QDs of consistently high quality.

Therefore, traditional suppliers, such as American Elements and M K Impex Corporation, will need to not only continue to differentiate themselves on the basis of their product variety, but also look to acquire mass production capabilities.

NanoMarkets believes that companies such as Nanoco Group and Quantum Materials Corporation, which hold IP positions related to QD materials and novel large-scale QD manufacturing techniques, are likely to have an edge over others because they will be in a position to strike bulk HM-based QD manufacturing deals with OEMs in the near to mid-term.

 NHM-based QD materials: Addressing growing environmental concerns over the use of certain heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, has led to the emergence of NHM-based QDs. NHM-based products have begun to emerge only recently, however, and the supplier base with large-scale production capabilities is limited at this time. Some of the companies with patented mass production manufacturing techniques include:

U.K.-based Nanoco Corporation, which has modified its existing HM-based QD manufacturing techniques in order to produce NHM-based QDs with optical properties identical to the well-accepted properties of HM-based QDs. Nanoco has patented this mass production technique in order to cater to the growing demands of the electronic display industry.

• U.S.-based Quantum Materials Corporation, which by the end of 2013 will be mass producing an entire range of HM-based and NHM-based quantum dots using its patented continuous flow process. The company’s range of QD materials is likely to find applicability in various industries including display and lighting, but the firm’s focus has been on developing QD materials suited for the biomedical and solar energy segments. NanoMarkets believes that QD material providers in this highly specialized material segment are likely to ensure business viability through continuous IP-related research activities, which will enable these manufacturers to receive a steady stream of licensing revenues from OEMs in the mid-term.

However, NanoMarkets expects significant development efforts will also be directed towards the implementation of cost-effective large-scale manufacturing techniques, which will be the key to the commercialization of cost-effective and high-performance QDs.

Technology Gaps in Current-Generation QD Materials It must be noted that despite their proven potential, QDs have yet to become the material of choice for the display and lighting industries.

Although this trend can be partly explained by the fact that OEMs are hesitant to dramatically shift towards a new technology such as QDs before recouping their investments in other similar and promising technologies (OLEDs), there are also several technological barriers that QDs must overcome in order to prove their superiority over other rival technologies.

Some of the current material-related issues faced by QDs include:

• The suitability of current fabrication techniques to facilitate cost-effective mass production;

• The ease of manufacturing blue QDs; and

• Blinking issues with QDs.

Despite the emergence of several fabrication techniques for the effective manufacture of QDs, the majority of currently available fabrication techniques do not provide significant room for cost reduction in large-scale production.

Research efforts to develop new fabrication techniques or modify existing techniques are highly desired. Until a cost-effective fabrication technique is developed, QDs may not be able to make the leap to commercial success.

With respect to display solutions, the majority of current-generation QDs is likely to find initial applicability in the LED backlighting space. However, the difficulty in producing blue QDs on a consistent basis is a major cause of concern for LED and LCD TV manufacturers.

In addition, because blue QDs are likely to be smaller than red QDs, blue and green variants of blue QDs require manufacturing techniques that make them visible to the human eye. Thus, QD materials manufacturers must develop an optimal manufacturing process for blue QDs – an effort that is likely to require strong collaborations between the materials suppliers and OEMs.

Furthermore, QD manufacturers have in general been struggling to simultaneously ensure uniform size and narrow emission peaks in order to prevent the QDs from blinking on and off.

Although a potential solution to this problem has been achieved by MIT researchers, the suitability of the new technique at commercial scale has yet to be verified.

Additional advances in technology are likely to solve some of the other existing problems with QDs in the coming years, leading to increased applicability of the technology.

In the immediate future, the QD industry is likely to focus primarily on the large display market, in which QDs are expected to be extensively incorporated in the backlighting units of LCD and LED-based TVs.

Moreover, NanoMarkets believes that the development of cost-effective mass production techniques will surely attract established OEMs that would like to harness the benefits of QDs in a variety of other applications ranging from direct-emissive QD TVs and smartphones to solid-state lighting.

However, NanoMarkets also expects that the potential for QD technology to replace OLEDs (in the large display segment) and LEDs and CFLs (in the lighting segment) will largely depend on demonstration of the long-term performance enhancements offered by QDs compared to these rival technologies, particularly in terms of their reduced manufacturing cost, enhanced power efficiency and color production, longer lifetimes, and flexibility.

*** End of Report: NanoMarkets: “Key Quantum Dot Markets

Note to Readers: To read more about a recent ‘Frost and Sullivan Award Winner’ in the advanced quantum dot (“QD”) manufacturing market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Quantum Materials Corporation (“QMC”) with the 2012 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Enabling Technology.

Read the Full Release online here:

http://www.frost.com/prod/servlet/press-release.pag?docid=271152906

 

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Thursday, December 20, 2012 – Based on its recent analysis of the advanced quantum dot (“QD”) manufacturing market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Quantum Materials Corporation (“QMC”) with the 2012 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Enabling Technology.

QMC’s technology, employing an innovative tetrapod quantum dot continuous-flow chemistry process addresses the major challenges—low  production and corresponding high manufacturing cost—that have held back the wide-spread adoption of QD technology by major industries.

QMC’s process enables bulk manufacturing (95 percent to 97 percent full tetrapod yield) of highly efficient tetrapod-shaped QDs that have 4 arms on the QD core to enable better electrical conductivity compared to current QD technology.

The structure and size of the resulting Tetrapod QDs are highly uniform, which enables the narrow bandwidth light extraction accuracy of QMC’s quantum dots to be significantly higher than QDs manufactured through batch colloidal synthesis.

“Characteristics such as high quantum yield, smaller size and high band gap tunability make QDs an ideal platform technology for many emerging applications, such as solar energy, sensors, solid state lighting, quantum computers, and QD lasers,” said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Shyam Krishnan. “However, manufacturing inefficiencies of complicated, expensive synthesis processes have limited their adoption.”

(excerpt)

” …. In short, QMC’s technology has eliminated most of the industrial challenges facing large-scale adoption of QD technology. Moreover, the company’s unique synthesis eliminates conventionally used solvents, replacing them with cheaper and less toxic solvents that reduce the cost and improve the effectiveness of the process.

A major advantage of QMC’s Tetrapod QD manufacturing technique is its flexibility; it can fabricate Tetrapod QDs from 12 different elements, which allows for RoHS compliance,” observed Krishnan. “The process also allows for the width and length of the Tetrapod QD’s arms to be fine-tuned for any desired application. For example, short QD arms for biotech applications, and longer QD arms to improve electron transport in solar cells.”

 *** End of ‘Frost and Sullivan Release

 

 

 

 

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.

A New Entry into the Mass Production of Quantum Dots


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8  Quantum Technology Group  

 

 

Quantum Technology Group (QTG) owns the patent rights for a unique non-toxic ZnSe nanoparticle (quantum dot – QD) and a manufacturing process that specifically addresses industry demands. QTG has recently entered the marketplace as a bulk chemical manufacturer with sales of QD’s to industry.

Laboratory manufacturing has been established by collaboration with an existing chemical synthesis firm with decades of experience. QTG offers a stable platform technology for product development ventures and eliminates the need for QD sourcing and the licensing requirements or possible infringements of combined technologies and patents.

The Quantum Technology Group’s patent portfolio establishes broad implications for utilization by a wide variety of industries. Our technology represents university based research patents that now are exclusively licensed to QTG.The products QTG produces are in critical demand by industry and represent the platform or core technology they require. Specific quality characteristics have been identified and our products meet and exceed industry requirements. Furthermore, our capabilities produce a nontoxic alternative for current manufacturers. We currently meet RoHS (Restrictions of Hazardous Substances) standard Sand Green Leaf Certifications.   Our unique manufacturing process also presents the ability to produce nontoxic quantum dots and deliver bulk manufacturing.

Specific industries demand large quantity production, QTG can meet these needs.   Our scientific competencies also extend into product development and collaborations with industry. QTG welcomes inquiries and offers it’s considerable resources and those of the well established commercial and academic scientific community. QTG is located in the center of the technology corridor north of Boston Massachusetts.

Our unique manufacturing process also presents the ability to produce nontoxic quantum dots and deliver bulk manufacturing. Specific industries demand large quantity production, QTG can meet these needs.   Our scientific competencies also extend into product development and collaborations with industry. QTG welcomes inquiries and offers it’s considerable resources and those of the well established commercial and academic scientific community. QTG is located in the center of the technology corridor north of Boston Massachusetts.

The Quantum Technology Group team consists of a highly competent staff comprised of individuals from science and business. QTG employs university based inventors preeminent in the fields of chemical engineering and nanotechnology. QTG has also partnered with a well known firm highly proficient in the field of chemical synthesis, their expertise spans decades of successful chemical manufacturing and scale up. The combined resources now represent a team focused on producing quantum dots, specific surface modifications and bulk manufacturing.

The QTG business organization has engaged individuals with decades of experience involving complex product commercialization, particularly involving international markets. The QTG business team has targeted international and domestic opportunities and remains dedicated to understanding and meeting the demands of specific industries.

DANIEL FORTE – FOUNDER – Marketing and business development professional. Appointed by the United States Secretary of Commerce to the Export Trade Council.

ERIK JOHANSSON SALES AND MARKETING – Direct sales management

JON KREMSKY PhD DIRECTOR OF MANUFACTURING – Chemical synthesis and industrial scale-up expert. Former Director Process Chemistry, Millipore

JAMES MCKEARIN PhD – PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST – Group leader chemical synthesis process engineering expert.

PERRY CATCHINGS – RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT MANAGER – Former senior management Polaroid, transfer of technology from R&D, Development and

Chemical Manufacturing

ULF DUNBERGER – PRODUCT INNOVATION – Expert automation and conceptual design business processes engineer focused on the validation of operational effectiveness for corporate control environments.

JUN WANG PhD – DIRECTOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT – Co-Inventor – Research Professor University of Massachusetts

LAKIS MOUNTZIARIS PhD – Inventor – Chairman Chemical Engineering University of Massachusetts.

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Key issues concerning commercial product development involve:

• Rapid manufacturing of QD with specified product qualities

• Bulk manufacturing capability (kilo quantity)

• Costs of goods – manufacturing

• Toxicity

• Desired stable emission frequencies

• Quantum absorption

• Quantum emission

• Surface modifications

• Key patents based on the QTG platform

The QD’s contained within the QTG patent portfolio address the above noted key issues. Capabilities offer a stable platform for product development ventures.

How Quantum Dots could be in and will help your next TV


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Nano-tech that could be in your next television

by Geferry Morrison: Posted February 18 2013

002Sony_Press_Conference_CES_2013_610x407

At CES in January, Sony announced several LCD TVs with “Triluminos,” a new backlighting method that they promise offered “rich, authentic color, and excellent red and green reproduction.” Digging deeper, it turns out Triluminos includes an optical component produced by QD Vision, Inc. called “Color IQ” which uses quantum dots to help create light.

OK, so what are quantum dots?

Quantum dots are a “semiconductor nanocrystal technology.” If you remember your high school (college?) physics, avail yourself of the Wiki page.

If you don’t know your valence bands from your conduction bands, you can think of a quantum dot as this: tiny pieces of matter with unique properties, including the ability to emit light at very specific wavelengths. Sort of like microscopic pieces of glitter that glow green, red, or blue depending on their size.

 

Red, green, and blue spectra for red, green, and blue quantum dots.

(Credit: QD Vision)

Specific wavelengths of light are good. We need specific wavelengths of light, the more specific the better. All televisions create an image by combining the three additive primary colors: red, green, and blue (RGB). Sharp adds yellow, a secondary color, but this isn’t in any content and is created by the TV. Mixing RGB in varying amounts gives us all the colors possible in our current TV system.

All LCDs create these colors with filters. Plasma displays create them with phosphors that glow in the required color (similar to the way CRT tube TVs worked). OLED, depending on the company, is one or the other. LG’s method creates a “white” OLED then adds color filters. Samsung‘s method has specific red, green, and blue OLED sub-pixels.

So where do quantum dots come in? Sony has a method.

Sony’s X900 and W900 lines Three of Sony’s 2013 TVs will use quantum dots in their backlighting, in the guise of QD Vision’s Color IQ tech (the 65X900, 55X900, and 55W900). A traditional LED LCD uses blue LEDs, coated with a yellow phosphor, to create “white” light. While reasonably efficient compared to other technologies (i.e. CCFL LCDs and plasmas), this still creates a lot of “wasted” energy. Orange, for example, doesn’t make it past the color filters on the front of the TV (instead, red and green are combined to create orange).

Triluminos uses blue LEDs, but instead of coating them with a yellow phosphor, the blue light from the LEDs passes through the Color IQ optical element containing red and green quantum dots. So the blue LEDs have two functions: create blue light, but also energize red- and green-emitting quantum dots so they in turn can create red and green light. About two-thirds of the light created by the blue LEDs is used to excite the QDs. Cool, right?

White_LED_vs_Blue_with_QD_Vertical_crop

This diagram is a top-down view of one side of two edge-lit LCDs (the front is “up” in this case, the back is “down”). The upper image shows a traditional “white” LED (blue, with yellow phosphor). The lower image is the method used in Sony’s Triluminos: a blue LED that passes through red and green quantum dots. This RGB light bounces off the light guide, and out through the liquid crystal and other layers just like a regular LCD TV.

(Credit: QD Vision)

 

If you’re curious about how LCD backlighting works, check out Is LCD and LED LCD HDTV uniformity a problem? which has images and diagrams of how backlights work. Oh, and if the “Triluminos” name sounds familiar, Sony has used it before. This time, as shown, it’s referring to an edge-lighting technology, not the RGB LED backlighting as in 2008.

Sony claims this allows for a wider color gamut compared to LCD TVs using “white” LEDs, as in more potential colors. Since all modern TVs are fully capable of reproducing every color in all current HDTV content, this is a bit of marketing hyperbole.

However, the benefits of this could go beyond cool, futuristic tech and WowNeeto-based marketing. When I’ve reviewed LED-lit projectors, I’ve found that the color possible from RGB LEDs looks more realistic than the same Rec. 709-calibrated colors created by color filters (DLP) or dichromatic mirrors (LCD/LCOS) as lit by UHP lamps. One TV engineer I asked about this phenomenon replied “LEDs are like painting with purer paint.”

Our own David Katzmaier often remarks in his reviews on the bluish cast seen on some conventional LED-based TVs compared to, say, plasma sets. “It’s usually most prevalent in dark areas, but I sometimes see a slight bluish ‘coldness’ in brighter material and skin tones too. In some cases I see it despite seemingly excellent color measurements from my instruments.”

So it’s possible that even with the same measured color points, quantum dot-enhanced displays could produce more realistic color. Will they? Will the color mixing required to create Rec. 709 from wildly oversaturated color points cause other issues? What effect will the color filters, which are still necessary on LCDs, have on this “purer” light? These are questions we can’t answer until we see the X900 series, and any future TVs with quantum dots.

This whole column and not one “Quantum Leap” joke. Oh dammit.

 

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) image of sparse QDs (white) on a semiconductor background (black). Individual QDs, as well as close-packed small groups can be resolved.

(Credit: MIT)

The current generation of quantum dot technology requires a primary light source like the blue LEDs in Sony’s Triluminos. This won’t always necessarily be the case. It will be possible to excite the quantum dots directly. This could be a full QD backlight, but it could be more. How about a direct-emissive display like OLED, but instead of Organic Light-Emitting Diodes, it’s sub-pixels filled with red, green, or blue quantum dots. QD Vision calls this a “QLED,” and it could have similar performance characteristics as OLED (like a truly infinite contrast ratio). Will it be easier to produce, offer better color, or have even lower power consumption? At this point, we have no idea. Given the production difficulties OLED has had, just the fact that there’s something on the horizon that could offer potentially similar performance is exciting.

Bottom line Unlike many of the new technologies on display at CES every year, quantum dots are real, and are potentially very cool. For now they reside only in a few high-end LCDs, but like OLED, they could hint at what a display of the future might be. Will they? We shall see.

Adoption by TV makers Expands Market for light-emitting nanocrystals. (Quantum Dot’s)


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Quantum Dots Go on Display

 

 

 

Sony has announced that it will embed quantum dots in its latest flat-screen televisions.

Steve Marcus/REUTERS

Sony Announces Use of QD's in TV Screens

Live from your living room, in super­saturated colour: it’s the quantum-dot TV! Researchers working with nanoscale fluorescent particles called quantum dots have long predicted groundbreaking achievements, such as ultra-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and solar cells, but the technology has found mainly niche applications. That could change with the announcement last week that QD Vision, based in Lexington, Massachusetts, would supply Sony Corporation of Tokyo with quantum dots for flat-screen televisions that will transmit more richly coloured images than other TVs on the market.

Demand for quantum-dot displays, say industry watchers, could benefit quantum-dot companies, bring down the price of these nanomaterials and boost other applications that have stalled. “Displays are a potential market that could help quantum-dot companies find traction,” says Jonathan Melnick, an analyst at Lux Research in Boston, Massachusetts.

Quantum dots are crystals about 10 nano­metres in diameter, made from a semiconductor material, commonly cadmium selenide. They are so tiny that their shape and size affect the quantum properties of their electrons, in particular their energy gap — the energy needed to kick electrons into a higher-energy band — which determines the colour of light that the mater­ial can emit. Whereas a bulk semiconductor is limited to emitting a single colour of light, researchers can tune the precise colour a quantum dot will absorb and re-emit by tailoring its size.

Discovered in 1981, quantum dots did not find applications until 2002. That was when the Quantum Dot Corporation of Hayward, California, began selling them to cell biologists, who prize them as fluorescent imaging labels for proteins and other biological molecules. As recently as 2010, the biomedical sector was responsible for US$48 million of $67 million in total quantum-dot revenues, according to BCC Research of Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Quantum dots have shown promise for electronics, too — for example in solar cells, in which a mix of quantum dots tuned to absorb different wavelengths of light could capture more of the energy in the solar spectrum. But one hurdle to their exploitation was their temperature sensitivity. Near the backlight of a liquid-crystal display (LCD), for example, temperatures can be around 100 °C. At this temperature, the dots lose efficiency and up to half of their brightness, says QD Vision co-founder and chief technology officer Seth Coe-Sullivan. He says that the company spent a long time tuning the chemistry of its quantum dots to make them stable at higher temperatures.

Moungi Bawendi, a chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and a co-founder of QD Vision, admits that the company also made some business miscalculations. For its first product, in 2009, it provided Nexxus Lighting of Charlotte, North Carolina, with quantum-dot coatings to convert the harsh glare of LEDs into a warmer glow, to make them more appealing as long-life, low-energy light bulbs. But Bawendi says that LED designs and technology for the light-bulb market evolved too fast for the quantum-dot coatings to keep up. “You design something, and six months later it doesn’t work,” Bawendi says. “Television technology is more stable.”

His optimism will be tested this spring with the company’s quantum-dot debut in Sony LCD televisions, to be sold under the Tri­luminos brand name. The contrast with today’s flat screens begins with the light source. Conventional LCDs use a high-intensity blue LED backlight whose glow is converted by a phosphor coating to create a broadband, white light used to make the moving TV images. The new Triluminos tele­visions instead pair an uncoated blue LED with a thin glass tube filled with quantum dots. Two kinds of quantum dots in the tube absorb some of the blue light from the backlight and re-emit it as pure red andgreen light. The resulting white light is more intense at the wavelengths of these three specific colours than the white light made by a phosphor-coated LED, so that more colour comes through in the images.

Another quantum-dot company, Nanosys of Palo Alto, California, is providing 3M of St Paul, Minnesota, with material for a similar product. 3M will make a polymer film seeded with quantum dots that does the same jobas QD Vision’s glass tube. The film is layered between the LCD’s stack of light filters, diffusers and polarizers, and similarly converts raw blue light into white light made up of pure colours. Nanosys and 3M announced their partnership in June 2012, but have not yet named any customers.

BCC predicts that, by 2015, optoelectronics, including display components, will make up $310 million of a total $666 million in quantum-dot revenues. Melnick says that these numbers might be overly optimistic, because quantum dots remain expensive. “Even on the low end, they still cost in the hundreds of dollars per gram, and range up to $10,000 per gram,” he says. But demand from 3M and Sony could help to bring prices down. Although neither QD Vision nor Nanosys would comment on the volume of material they expect to make this year, or their selling price, both say that they are scaling up their manufacturing volume.

Bawendi is not surprised that it took quantum dots so long to find their footing. “You could argue that 30 years is about the right amount of time from fundamental discovery to applications,” he says.

Samsung displays devices with screens that bend and fold


Galaxy SkinSamsung Galaxy Skin was displayed with a flexible screen

Samsung is pushing the envelope in new areas of smartphone design, as it displayed devices with screens that bend. Samsung Galaxy Skin is reported to feature a flexible AMOLED, which uses a plastic polymer instead of glass. The new range of Samsung’s flexible phones will come in handy for clumsy hands as the device is reported to survive falls and blows.

The devices with flexible screens from Samsung are reported to be in the last phase of development and are rumoured to be released in the first half of next year. The flexibility of the screen is a result of the use of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are thin and can be applied on flexible material, like plastic or metal foil.

Samsung is not the only company which has tried to create something unique like the flexible screens as companies like Japan’s Sony and South Korea’s LG Display have launched prototypes of the flexible screens. Samsung had previously promised flexible displays this year, but the date has passed with no confirmation from the South Korean manufacturer.

 

The prototypes of the flexible devices were displayed at the 2012 Plastics show in Birmingham this week. With the flexible devices, Samsung might be looking to create a unique pedestal for the South Korean company and the bendy devices might prove to be the factor, which pushes Samsung ahead.

Lee Chang-hoon, Vice President of Samsung’s display division, told the Journal that the South Korean company has sent out samples of the new displays to a few select customers.

Related:
Samsung Galaxy S4 rumours predict launch in January 2013
Galaxy S3 ousts iPhone 4S, becomes world’s best-selling smartphone in Q3 2012
Samsung Galaxy S3 64GB variant now available for pre-order in UK at £600

Galaxy Skin