After a long period of experimentation, it looks like quantum dots may be ready to start making their way into some television prototypes. Mashable has a new piece up about work done by Nanosys and 3M to bring the technology into prime time in cellular phones and television screens:
What are quantum dots, anyway? They are light-emitting nanoparticles. They’re so small that they measure just 2 to 10 nanometers in diameter, which is about the width of 50 atoms lined up next to each other. That’s 10,000 times narrower than a human hair.
Another weird characteristic of these tiny points of light is their precisely controllable size, and as their size is changed, so is the wavelength of the light they emit. That means they can produce many more colors than conventional pixels, resulting in far more colorful screens.
In these new screens, the dots have been placed in 3M’s Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF), which the company says can “make devices such as smartphones, tablets and televisions lighter, brighter and more energy-efficient.”
The special film will serve as a backlight for LCD displays, and because it offers such precise control of color, it can shine in exactly the right color through specific pixels on the screens, resulting in a much wider range of color. 3M says trillions of those little dots can fit in one backlight unit for an LCD, replacing the less-efficient and less-precise LED or florescent backlights in today’s LCD screens.
Dimmable LED backlighting is currently the most precise way of controlling blacks and color in LCD screens, but when you replace the thousands of LEDs in those television with a trillion or so quantum dots, you can control everything down to the micrometer instead of millimeter. When pixels are the hulking giants in the picture, you start to see just how much more precision quantum dots can generate. All this, while being lighter, cooler, faster, and thinner than any other technology we have today. Who knows, if manufacturers can’t solve the OLED puzzle in the next three or four years, this might be the next new thing. The best part about quantum dots is that they can be slotted into existing designs with very little effort, and affordable quantum leaps of technology evolution is sweet music to executive ears.