Even smaller than nanoparticles, quantum dots may represent the next frontier in ultra-miniature electronics. Now they’re actually finding their way into commercial products, starting with a new line of Bravia televisions from Sony.
Sony announced the new line of TVs at CES 2013 earlier this month, touting the quantum dots’ capability to display a far wider color gamut than other LCD televisions. That means the TVs’ pixels can render a wider range of the spectrum, delivering richer greens, reds, and other colors.
The quantum dots are part of a component called Color IQ, made by QD Vision, a quantum technology company. It’s the first appearance of quantum dots, which were only discovered in 1981, in consumer electronics. Color IQ is a polymer film that contains quantum dots that help change the colors of light waves passing through them.
Quantum dots are very tiny semiconducting crystals, about 10 nanometers in diameter. They are so tiny that their size actually affects their electrical characteristics, giving them some unusual properties. In this case, dots within the Color IQ film transform blue light (from a blue backlight) into red light and green light.
Using a blue backlight and the quantum dot film gives purer pixel colors for red, blue, and green than ordinary LCDs, which use white backlights. The result is a wider range of colors.
Science journal Nature has an interesting article on the properties of quantum dots for electronics, solar cells, and other applications.
QD Vision is based in Lexington, Mass., and has raised more than $55 million from North Bridge Venture Partners, Highland Capital Partners, DTE Energy Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Passport Capital, Novus Energy Partners, and Capricorn Investment Group.