SID’s Display Week Opens with Lots of Quantum Dot News

I have not had a chance to spend much time on the show floor or paper sessions, so I don’t have the full perspective of SID’s DisplayWeek yet. It is my turn to write a Display Daily column, however, so I will focus on one hot topic at SID: quantum dots. Quantum dot news is big here already with Nanosys, Quantum Materials and QD Vision making announcements and Nanoco giving a paper (that I have not reviewed).

Nanosys, for example, has developed a “hybrid” solution they call Hyperion Quantum Dots, which mixes cadmium-free red and cadmium-based green quantum dots into a single film. They showed a side-by-side demo on the show floor with identical TVs and image performance (90+% of BT 2020). One TV used their previous Cd—based film and the other the new Hyperion film, but the latter now meets the European Union’s Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive without having to use an exemption. It achieves this by having a Cd level under the minimum level of 100ppm and a very narrow spectral width (24nm). This should be a big deal as compliance is a big driver in QD adoption. Mass production is expected in early 2017.

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Nanosys also announced a manufacturing deal with Hitachi Chemical to produce quantum dot films, joining 3M as a second supplier. Hitachi Chemical will start shipping films to customers in the second half of 2016.

We asked Nanosys if Hitachi’s entry might impact QD film pricing but did not get a very definitive answer. However, Hitachi apparently feels very confident they can offer pricing that can allow QD TVs to move from the flagship part of the TV line more into the mid-tier range. That will be huge too.

Cost is driven partly by the QD materials but also the fabrication into films and the encapsulation of them against moisture and oxygen. Improvements in the ruggedness of the QD materials and films can both help to lower encapsulation requirements for example, and therefore price, which seems to be what is happening.

Meanwhile, QD Vision announced that AOC, one of the world’s leading monitor brands, is bringing their latest quantum dot-based monitors to North America. The new monitors, which were introduced in China last month, integrate QD Vision’s Color IQ technology, which places a QD-filled optic between a row of blue LEDs and the edge-lit waveguide of the backlight.

The 27” monitor delivers 98% of the Adobe color gamut, about 50% more color volume than a typical monitor – and at a competitive price point, said the company.

QD Vision also gave a paper to propose a new metric for measuring the brightness and luminance of the display. Brightness is what we perceive and luminance is what we measure – and these don’t always correlate, when you compare a highly saturated display to a less saturated one.

The proposed “Color nits” metric is derived from a formula that takes into account varying spectral profiles and the subtle differences between perceived brightness and actual luminance. “It is the first comprehensive metric that will be able to compare the brightness of all Rec. 2020 display implementations, helping to measure and create the most lifelike, vibrant color gamut for consumers,” said the company. “The traditional measurement for color brightness – units of luminance called “Nits” – has become outdated, due to its inability to compare displays with different spectral profiles.”

The new concept integrates aspects of the so-called H-K effect that states that more saturated colors can appear brighter than less saturated one, but the concept goes further in trying to bring in the spectral purity of the light source. TCL has endorsed the concept. At Display Summit, June 6-7, QD Vision will provide more details on the concept in a session devoted to metrology.

Finally, Quantum Materials, a developer of continuous flow quantum dot fabrication, announced that it has completed the initial development phase with its display film partners and is entering a preproduction phase for its cadmium-free quantum dots.

The company is shipping quantum dot samples to its partners and is scheduled to increase shipment quantities as development reaches pre-commercial scale later this year. This should mean that commercial quantities of the cadmium-free quantum dot film will be available to display manufacturers in early 2017.

Quantum Materials is working with Uniglobe Kisco Inc., a major Japanese film provider, lending credibility to their claims.

While current providers are focused on QD optics and films, the next stage in QD development is also on-going. As Bob mentioned in yesterday’s Display Daily, Nanosys is working on embedding quantum dots directly into the front of the LCD (SID Business Conference Notices Monitors.. and Oleds … and QDs)

And this isn’t even the end game for quantum dots. Many believe the most efficient process will be QD emitting pixels themselves. That means electrically stimulated emission, not blue optical stimulation, but at the pixel level. This is an area of research that I will be looking into while at SID.

And that’s all I know after the first day of SID. There are a number of papers on QDs to listen to today and more vendors to visit. Stay tuned.