Researchers at Samsung Electronics have made the first full-color display that uses quantum dots. Quantum-dot displays promise to be brighter, cheaper, and more energy-efficient than those found in today’s cell phones and MP3 players.
Samsung’s four-inch diagonal display is controlled using an active matrix, which means each of its color quantum-dot pixels is turned on and off with a thin-film transistor. The researchers have made the prototype on glass as well as on flexible plastic, as reported in Nature Photonics this week. “We have converted a scientific challenge into a real technological achievement,” says Jong Min Kim, a fellow at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology.
Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals that glow when exposed to current or light. They emit different colors depending on their size and the material they’re made from. Their bright, pure colors and low power consumption make them very appealing for displays. Most computer monitors and TVs use power-hungry liquid-crystal displays (LCDs). Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays are more brilliant and energy-efficient, but are confined to small gadgets because they are too expensive for TV screens, and their organic materials have limited lifetimes.
Quantum-dot displays would consume less than a fifth of the power of LCDs, says Samsung researcher Tae-Ho Kim. They promise to be brighter and longer-lasting than OLEDs. What’s more, they could be manufactured for less than half of what it costs to make LCD or OLED screens.