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Quantum Dot Displays Could Lead To Cheaper, Thinner Screens

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Devices can’t get thinner for a few reasons. While a lighter, thinner battery would be amazing, screens still take up a lot of gadget real estate, a fact that is mitigated slightly by e-ink and other “flat” displays. Now, however, researchers are turning to Quantum Dot displays, screens that use light-emitting nanocrystals to display multiple colors in a screen that is surprisingly thin and can be “printed” using standard inkjet techniques. Manufacturers Samsung and Sony have produced some proof-of-concept displays that they showed at CES this year but they used QD displays as backlights, not as a display feature. Until now, no one has been able to create a full QD screen that works the way LED and OLED screens display images and text.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana−Champaign have been able to print the ink-like crystals onto thin screens using electrohydrodynamic jet printing, a technique used for creating proteins and other complex molecules. From the abstract:

The shapes and thicknesses of the QD patterns exhibit systematic dependence on the dimensions of the printing nozzle and the ink composition in ways that allow nearly arbitrary, systematic control when exploited in a fully automated printing tool. Homogeneous arrays of patterns of QDs serve as the basis for corresponding arrays of QD LEDs that exhibit excellent performance. Sequential printing of different types of QDs in a multilayer stack or in an interdigitated geometry provides strategies for continuous tuning of the effective, overall emission wavelengths of the resulting QD LEDs. This strategy is useful to efficient, additive use of QDs for wide ranging types of electronic and optoelectronic devices.

What does all this mean? It means they’ve been able to place very tiny drops of QD material onto almost any surface. They can also place multiple colors over each other, allowing for a more efficient method of color mixing. This means RGB pixels could be even smaller since each pixel can light up in multiple permutations.

Ultimately, this technology is a few years from becoming commercially viable but, given the interest in smaller and smaller gear it could drive some exciting technologies in the future. You can check out more research here.

via Spectrum