Quantum dots

Quantum dots

QD Vision makes materials---quantum dots---that produce green and red light from incoming blue light. They're making semiconductors but it's a completely wet chemistry approach. Credit: Martin LaMonica

Quantum production

Quantum production

The first step of its process is making quantum dots from precursor materials in a highly tuned process, the foundation of its intellectual property. The process is very compact---three people here are delivering material destined for thousands of displays. Credit: Martin LaMonica

Turning Q-dots into products

Turning Q-dots into products

John Ritter, the executive vice president of R&D at QD Vision, shows where quantum dot material is turned into a polymer by mixing it with a resin. That resin is then turned into a linguine-shaped rod that goes into a display. Credit: Martin LaMonica

Light stick

Light stick

The end product is a thin yellow tube that fits into a white case that holds a series of LEDs. The tube converts some of the blue light of the LED to green and red. Credit: Martin LaMonica

QD Vision’s product replaces the conventional white light source of an LCD screen, producing a range of colors from a blue LED placed on the edge of a display. Credit: Martin LaMonica

The result of the quantum dots is more vibrant colors. The TV on the left uses QD Vision’s material. Credit: Martin LaMonica

EPA’s Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (left), and Curt Spalding, Regional EPA Administrator (middle) presented the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award to QD Vision CTO Seth Coe-Sullivan (righ) and other employees. Credit: Martin LaMonica

In an unassuming two-story building in a bland office park in suburban Boston, an MIT spinout is producing material to make beautiful TV images.

On Tuesday, QD Vision received the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from EPA officials for the company’s environmentally benign process of making a type of crystal semiconductor called quantum dots. Its product—a material that creates red and green light from a blue LED—also results in more energy-efficient LCD displays, which are used in TVs and many other consumer electronics.

The nanotechnology company is in the process of commercializing its product through partners. In September, it said that Chinese TV maker TCL is using QD Vision’s Color IQ technology in a 55-inch TV. Sony last year also said the technology will be used in its high-end TV sets.

The focus on consumer electronics represents a change of plans for QD Vision, which originally had planned on making materials for LED bulbs. But in 2010, CEO Jason Carlson shifted the focus toward displays because they represent a larger market in the near term, according to a report. The company has raised more than $80 million since 2004, including $20 million last year.

The difference in a display using its quantum dot material is noticeable—colors are more vibrant and saturated. But the company does face other quantum dot competitors in displays, including Milpitas, CA-based Nanosys, as well as OLED displays, which are expensive but improving.

Before receiving the award, QD Vision executives led a tour of the company’s chemistry lab and production space. Remarkably, three people in a space not much bigger than a typical office are producing quantum dots at commercial scale, turning out enough quantum dot material for thousands of screens.

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3 responses to “Inside QD Vision’s Quantum Dot Factory For Making Vivid TV Colors”

  1. luminousflux says:

    It’s a two story building. Congrats QDV!

  2. CommonSense in MA says:

    The original 2004 plan was displays. In ~2007 it shifted to light bulbs.