Not All Quantum Dots Are Created Equal

I spent the last two weeks in Brussels, Belgium on a mission to help educate members of the European Parliament about quantum dots (QDs) and their potential impact on the display industry.  The goal of the trip was to provide facts and correct misunderstandings about quantum dots and their positive potential for business and society.  It seems our efforts were well received and appreciated by those with whom we met.

Brussels is beautiful.  It’s buzzing with energy, cultural and diplomatic diversity.  It’s very concentrated and most of what you might want to see and do is quite walkable.  Public transportation is easy, timely and very efficient.  The people are quite friendly and most speak English as a fallback to their home language.  They also share a sense of pride in being a part of an increasingly important political center. It’s truly one of the great cities of Europe – and I hope to return very soon.

In the past twelve months, quantum dot technology has captured the full attention of the display industry – by efficiently and inexpensively expanding the color gamut over most of today’s televisions and monitors by over 50 percent.   Industry adoption is accelerating, as is confusion about the technology.  So we at QD Vision are working to get some important facts on the table.

Because of the unique way they convert light, cadmium selenide and indium phosphide are the two most commonly used compounds in quantum dots for displays.  But this is where their similarity ends.  For instance:

Cadmium selenide dots deliver a wider color gamut.  Using industry-standard benchmarks, displays based on cadmium selenide dots show over 10% more colors than those based on indium phosphide.  And while this might be considered a “nice to have” by some for use cases such as entertainment and gaming, this performance gap becomes much more important when you consider the economic implications for e-commerce – and potentially life-saving implications for medical diagnostics.

Color matters… and it will only matter more in the years ahead.

Cadmium selenide-based edge optic solutions are more affordable.  Cadmium selenide dots are more stable in high heat and flux conditions.  This means they can be placed closer to the LEDs.  As a result, you need to use about one-20th the material of an indium phosphide-based solution.  And while the cost of the dots is relatively insignificant, the cost of the packaging is not.  In order to use indium phosphide dots, you have to embed them in an expensive film that covers the whole display screen – almost a full square meter for a typical 55” television.  As a result, indium phosphide-based solutions are up to three times more expensive to implement than edge-optic solutions using cadmium selenide.

Cadmium selenide-based QD displays are more energy-efficient.  In lab tests, changing only the quantum dot material, cadmium selenide-based QD displays consume a minimum of 20% less energy than indium phosphide-based QD displays.   In fact, lab tests show that cadmium selenide-based QD displays are significantly more energy efficient than any other wide color gamut technology available today – including RG Phosphor, OLED and indium phosphide QDs – while producing the benefit of a much wider color gamut.

This energy-efficiency advantage is of great importance to the European Parliament, because of it’s potential implications for all Europeans:

  • Cadmium selenide-based QD displays could save Europeans over 3 billion Euros/year in energy costs – and still deliver the widest color gamut commercially available today.
  • This translates directly to almost 7 million tons of avoided CO2 production per year in Europe alone.
  • And, because fossil fuel-burning electrical production plants are a leading source of free cadmium in the atmosphere, cadmium selenide-based QD displays result in a net reduction in free cadmium in the environment. That’s right, 1.5 mg of cadmium selenide in a typical 55” display leads to a net 40 mg reduction in free cadmium over the average life of a television.

Said another way, QD displays based on indium phosphide actually lead to more free cadmium in the environment than those using cadmium selenide.  It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true.

So, to summarize:

  • Cadmium selenide quantum dot solutions deliver a wider color gamut.  Opening up new economic opportunities for businesses and better experiences for consumers worldwide.
  • Cadmium selenide quantum dot solutions are more affordable.  Why shouldn’t everyone have access to wide color and great energy savings?
  • Cadmium selenide quantum dot solutions are more energy-efficient.  Lower energy costs.  Less carbon dioxide.  Less free cadmium in the atmosphere.

There is currently no alternative quantum dot technology that can fill the shoes of cadmium selenide quantum dots.  Our goal is to have Parliament understand the full story – and continue to make this technology available until an equally-performing alternative becomes commercially available.


By John Volkmann, CMO, QD Vision

TV Viewers: You’re Only Seeing Half of What You Paid For!

If you’re like me, you enjoy watching TV, particularly on today’s ultra-high definition (UHD) displays. Watching live sports is particularly enjoyable – a huge leap forward from the last generation of Full HD or FHD displays.

Still, it may come as a surprise to learn that, even when watching 4K content on today’s UHD displays, you’re actually only seeing half of the colors that were captured at the source.

That’s right, even the most advanced TVs in the market today can only reproduce a fraction of the colors the film maker, photographer or videographer intended for you to see.

It’s like looking at Pebble Beach through a knothole.

Now, imagine what it would be like if you could see 100% of the colors that were originally captured. Films would be more immersive, games more realistic, family movies more memorable. Well, with quantum dot technology, we are now on a path to seeing that happen for the first time in television history.

In 1931, the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage (in English, the International Commission on Illumination) ratified the CIE RGB color space, often referred to as “the CIE.”

In the history of color science, it was a watershed moment. For the first time, a widely accepted mapping of the complete visual gamut – essentially, the scientific expression of eyesight – was created.

With this definition in place, the competition began to create systems that could reproduce the full CIE specification, a goal for color scientists ever since.

It’s a goal that has remained largely out of reach for more than 85 years. But with the application of quantum dots in digital displays, and the recent introduction of a new color standard called Rec.2020, the path to full CIE has suddenly become clearer than ever.

In tblog charthe CIE diagram to the left, the colors within the horseshoe-like shape represent all of the colors the human eye can see.

The triangles represent the color spaces of the most widely adopted display standards in use today, and how much of the visible spectrum they can reproduce.

As an example, most of today’s televisions are designed to display the Rec. 709 color space, the specification of high-definition TV, which represents only 34% of the full visible spectrum.

So, despite how stunning that new HD or even 4K TV might appear, it’s really only capable of showing about a third of the colors we’re capable of seeing with our naked eye.

Imagine if that were true of sound. If your music player dropped a third of the frequencies your ear could hear in nature, you’d notice. You might just get a bit upset. And you’d probably pay more for something that gave you what you knew you were missing. It happened in audio a few generations ago, and now it’s about to happen in video.

New standards will help set a new, higher bar. In 2012, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) defined an updated set of standards for UHD TV that included a wider color gamut called Rec. 2020. This gamut is twice the area of the Rec. 709 gamut (HDTV standard) and represents almost two-thirds of what the human eye can see.

And for a lot of reasons I will save for a future blog post, quantum dots offer the only commercially viable path to making that happen.

This noticeable increase in display capability will give content producers the power to create stunning new experiences, and unprecedented levels of visual clarity.

The grass really is greener with Quantum Dots, and we’re going to show you how.


By John Volkmann, Chief Marketing Officer, QD Vision