QD Vision’s Quantum Light Technology Finds Growth in Displays, Lighting

Displays and lighting are fields in which printed electronic systems can offer tremendous advantages, once the technology is in place. The advantages of producing flexible displays and lighting at a relatively low cost and high rate are clear, and with improved performance of materials, companies are starting to come to market with their solutions.

QD Vision, Lexington, MA, may have an ideal solution with its Quantum LightTM platform. A nanotechnology-based quantum dot (QD) specialist, QD Vision delivers highly differentiated display and lighting solutions to market ranging from military to commercial applications.

QD Vision’s nanoparticle quantum dot technology originated out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). To date, dozens of patents have been issued, while more than 150 are pending. The company boasts a world-class technology team that is building on the work done by QD Vision scientific advisors, MIT professors Vladimir Bulovic and Moungi Bawendi, who is considered the father of quantum dot technology.

Seth Coe-Sullivan, QD Vision’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, noted that QD Vision’s Quantum LightTM platform harnesses the properties of quantum dots to deliver practical light emitting solutions with the ability to fine tune the emission wavelength to meet their customers’ individual needs.

“QDs are tunable and narrow-band emitters of light, and both of these properties are important features in lighting and displays,” Coe-Sullivan noted. “For example in lighting, the narrow-band of emission means that we don’t emit any light in the deep red or infrared where the human eye can’t see it, and hence have a 25-40% power efficiency advantage.

“The tunability of QD emission means that we can fine tune the emission wavelength to be just right for each of our customers’ light source needs - without embarking upon expensive material redesigns,” he added. “Lighting specifications can include a range of CCTs (warm, neutral, cool white) as well as CRIs (how well the spectrum matches a perfect blackbody radiator), and so a non-tunable emitter does an inferior job of delivering light to each of these diverse specs.”

Quantum Light has won numerous awards: The Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award, Emerging Company of the Year by the New England Clean Energy Council, and AlwaysON Cleantech and Public Sector awards. The company also won a silver Edison Award for best new product.

On Jan. 18, 2012, QD Vision received the prestigious 2011 SEMI Award for North America for its pioneering work to commercialize quantum dot technology. The company was honored for the significant progress it made on the integration and manufacturing processes essential to the commercialization of QD technology.

The company has raised more than $55 million in financing from top-tier venture capital firms, and is enjoying growth. QD Vision relocated its headquarters to a new, high-volume production facility in Lexington, MA, in September.

“A group of MIT founders formed the company in 2004, and raised our first capital in 2005 to spin the company out of MIT,” said Coe-Sullivan. “From inception, we have always considered it our mission to commercialize the light emitting applications of quantum dot semiconductor nanocrystals in optoelectronics, with a focus on lighting and displays. We brought a first product to market in lighting in 2010 and have raised about $55M in venture capital to date. In 2011, we raised our largest round of capital to date, and moved into our new manufacturing facility in Lexington, MA, where we now have the capacity to serve the lighting and display markets.”

In August, QD Vision announced that it was awarded a $900,000 development contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to advance their quantum dot-based infrared (IR) materials and deliver two prototype devices.

Coe-Sullivan said that QD Vision’s Quantum Light nanomaterials have come a long way in the last six years.

“In 2005, we were very excited to make QD materials that were 50% efficient in solution, and about 30% efficient when in the solid state.,” he said. “Today, we routinely manufacture QDs across the visible spectrum with more than 90% efficiency, in the solid state form.”

The ability to manufacture quantum dots has been a significant advancement.

“A second major advance is buried in that first, where we can now manufacture, with high repeatability and yield, QDs sufficient to meet the needs of both the lighting and display markets,” Coe-Sullivan said. “The scale-up of that process involved innovations that many had previously deemed impossible. Finally, I think that delivering a component-level technology that our lighting customers could snap into a lighting design was an important step in delivering a practical solution that people could actually use, without having to be experts in nano-materials handling.”

Printing offers numerous advantages for manufacturers, and Coe-Sullivan said that QD Vision uses a screen printing process to make the Quantum Light optic components for lighting products.

“Screen printing was the right combination of inexpensive, high throughput and medium resolution printing that met this products’ needs, but we believe that many different printing techniques could be utilized with our QD-based inks,” Coe-Sullivan noted.

Quantum dots can be utilized in a wide range of display and lighting technologies, including LCDs, LEDs and OLEDs. QD Vision’s Quantum LightTM technology offers expanded color gamut at reduced cost, and has drawn the attention of numerous global consumer electronics companies, which are adapting it for new products.

“We launched first in lighting, and see our technology excelling in this market over the coming years,” said Coe-Sullivan. “Second is likely to be displays, where the saturated color QDs deliver will go straight to color gamut of the display device. These are two very large markets, with plenty of growth opportunity for QD Vision for many years. We are already starting to explore a few other markets where our technology could deliver value, but so far our focus remains on lighting and displays.

“We are receiving plenty of interest in our technology, and find ourselves in the fortunate position of being able to choose our customers and partners from the very best in their respective industries,” Coe-Sullivan added.