What are Quantum Dots?
Quantum dots (QDs) are semiconducting nanocrystals that are very small – only a few nanometres in size. In display technologies, the most common types of QDs used are composed of a metal chalcogenide core. These QDs have the chemical formula XY – where X is a metal and Y is sulfur, tellurium or selenium (e.g. CdTe, CdSe, ZnS) – which is encased with the shell of a second semiconductor (e.g. CdSe/CdS). Their tiny dimensions mean that charge carriers are confined in close proximity, which gives QDs optical and electronic properties that are substantially different from those of large semiconductor crystals.
QLEDs vs OLEDs
In particular, QDs have enhanced light absorption and emission, making them particularly suitable for display technologies. Metal chalcogenide quantum dots (MCQDs) have already made it into commercial products – most notably, in Samsung’s QLED television range. Here, a blue LED backlight excites a layer of quantum dots on an LCD panel, causing them to emit light. The color of light emitted by the quantum dots depends on their size – with small dots emitting blue light, and progressively larger dots emitting green, yellow, orange, and red light.
Left: Core-shell quantum dot structure. Right: The size of the dot defines the color of light that the dot emits. (Source: Ossila.com)