Quantum dots may sound like something you’d find on Star Trek, and look like something you’d find in a college dorm, but these tiny nanocrystals have the potential of becoming the next big thing, solid-state lighting.
So just what is a quantum dot?
Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals which emit photons (light) when excited by electricity. These dots can range in size from 2nm (nanometer) to 20nm (a human hair is about 60,0000nm in diameter). These tiny dots are combined to create larger cells which can be used in a variety of commercial applications such as photovoltaic solar cells, LCD displays, medical imaging, fiber optic data transmission, and specifically to our industry, lighting.
By varying the material, size, and shape of each quantum dot, different wavelengths (colors) of light are emitted. Lager dots create red light while smaller dots create blue light. These cells can then be used to create quantum light emitting diodes (QLEDs). With the ability to tune color, QLEDS have the potential of solving color consistency and quality issues that have plagued standard LEDs. While still in the very early stages of development, QLEDs are theoretically cheaper to manufacture and would be 30%-40% more efficient than Organic LEDs. Could today’s LED and even organic-LED technology be a mere stopgap to Quantum LEDs? Only time will tell, but the potential applications sound exciting.