Monday, May 20, 2024

Decades of progress bring quantum dots to brink of widespread use

A new article in Science magazine gives an overview of almost three decades of research into colloidal quantum dots, assesses the technological progress for these nanometer-sized specs of semiconductor matter, and weighs the remaining challenges on the path to widespread commercialization for this promising technology with applications in everything from TVs to highly efficient sunlight collectors, reports. “Thirty years ago, these structures were just a subject of scientific curiosity studied by a small group of enthusiasts. Over the years, quantum dots have become industrial-grade materials exploited in a range of traditional and emerging technologies, some of which have already found their way into commercial markets,” said Victor Klimov, a co-author of the paper and leader of the team conducting quantum dot research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Many advances originated at Los Alamos, including the first demonstration of colloidal quantum dot lasing, the discovery of carrier multiplication, pioneering research into quantum dot light emitting diodes (LEDs) and luminescent solar concentrators, and recent studies of single-dot quantum emitters. Using modern colloidal chemistry, the dimensions and internal structure of quantum dots can be manipulated with near-atomic precision, which allows for highly accurate control of their physical properties and thereby behaviours in practical devices. A number of ongoing efforts on practical applications of colloidal quantum dots have exploited size-controlled tunability of their emission colour and high-emission quantum yields near the ideal 100% limit. These properties are attractive for screen displays and lighting, the technologies where quantum dots are used as colour converting phosphors. Due to their narrowband, spectrally tunable emission, quantum dots allow for improved colour purity and more complete coverage of the entire colour space compared to the existing phosphor materials. Some of these devices, such as quantum-dot TVs, have already reached technological maturity and are available in commercial markets. The next frontier is creating technologically viable LEDs, powered by electrically driven quantum dots.

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