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Manufacturing & Supply Chain

Electronics manufacturers expand use of quantum dots

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Electronics manufacturers expand use of quantum dots

Electronics manufacturers expand use of quantum dots
June 12
11:33 2020
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Use of quantum dots in electronic components continues to grow as manufacturers develop new sensor and display technologies.

UK-based Nanoco has signed a five-year development and supply deal to provide US semiconductor manufacturer ST Microelectronics with cadmium-free quantum dots for use in infrared sensors.

Quantum dots are nanometre-sized semiconductor particles that emit light in various colours, creating a high resolution for use in display screens, sensors and solar panels. Quantum dots used to be largely cadmium-based, but regulations to restrict the use of cadmium, which is toxic, has prompted developers to move towards substituting indium phosphide.

The first phase of development work with ST is scheduled to continue until December, Nanoco said.

Nanoco recently abandoned a formal sale process, citing the uncertainty created by Covid-19. The company is developing a plan for commercial output — enabled by its newly-developed materials — following recent investment in its UK facility.

Nanoco earlier this year launched a patent infringement lawsuit against South Korea’s Samsung. The companies had collaborated on developing quantum dots for televisions.

Samsung has moved away from producing liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, instead focusing on quantum dot light-emitting diode (QLED) screens for large-display items. It has released several new QLED televisions and laptops in recent weeks. The company will close its loss-making LCD production operations in South Korea and China this year.

LCD panel prices fell by 20pc in 2019 as competition from Chinese producers grew. China-based BOE expanded its LCD production capacity by 20pc last year and led global shipments.

Samsung Display plans to invest 13.1 trillion won ($10.61bn) by 2025 to convert an LCD panel line in South Korea to produce quantum dot displays. The company will launch the new line in 2021, gradually expanding its capacity until 2025.

South Korean display producers are pinning their hopes on QLED and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology after ceded ground to Chinese LCD producers, which surpassed South Korea’s production capacity in 2017.

The value of South Korea’s display exports fell by 28.1pc to $1.2bn in April, trade ministry data show. Exports of OLED panels fell on a slowdown in demand, while exports of LCD panels fell as a result of the shift in production.



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