Introduction to Nanoco’s CFQD® quantum dots technology in lighting applications

Nanoco’s CFQD® quantum dots enable tuneable, high-efficiency lighting


While recent advancements in lighting are remarkable, many LED lighting technologies still struggle with replicating color and induce unwanted glare. However, the emergence of novel, non-toxic materials holds new promise in replicating natural light and bolstering positive human response. Cadmium-free quantum dots are one such solution. CFQD® Quantum Dot technology works by absorbing some of the LED’s light, converting it and re-emitting it with the desired color characteristics. The dots, which are easily fine-tuned to the desired color by simply adjusting their size, give lighting manufacturers an efficient and cost-effective way to tailor their lighting solutions. The result is light with the color performance of an incandescent bulb and the efficiency and economy of a LED.


In terms of colour performance, the best artificial light source remains the traditional incandescent bulb. These bulbs, however, only last 500 or so hours and are very inefficient: they normally convert 10% of the energy they consume into light, the rest turns into heat.

Fluorescent lights are better, lasting longer and converting 30% of energy into light. LEDs are even better still with far higher conversion of energy into usable photons and lifetimes of up to +50,000 hours. However, colour quality performances of current LED lights are much lower than traditional incandescent lights which can be measured using the Colour Rendering Index (CRI). CRI is a quantitative measure of a light’s ability to reproduce colours of various objects faithfully in comparison to a natural light source. Most current LED lighting technologies struggle to achieve a high CRI light with the all-important R9 value.

Quantum dots offer a cutting edge solution: they absorb a proportion of the LED’s light, convert it, and re-emit it providing light with higher CRI tunable across the viable spectrum. Moreover the colour of the re-emitted light is determined by the size of the dot and since the size can be precisely tailored, the overall colour balance of the LED unit can be fine-tuned to a desired colour temperature. The result is a light source with the colour quality performance of an incandescent light bulb and the efficiency and economy of a superior LED. We currently operate between 2200K – 6500K with 90+CRI.


CFQD® Quantum Dot technology can be used in numerous application in the lighting industry which include but not limited to:

  • Retail and Specialty: Nanoco’s CFQD® Quantum Dot technology is designed to provide outstanding color performance without sacrificing efficiency.  Applications where color quality is an absolute must include high-end retail store lighting where consumers can determine precise colors of clothing and high-value goods, surgical lights that enable accurate diagnosis and fluid operations, supermarkets to showcase the freshness and quality of meat and produce, and in professional photography and video solutions where maintaining true-to-life color representations maximizes user experience and value. 
  • Agricultural Applications: LEDs provide many benefits to the grow-light and horticultural lighting industry because, unlike traditional lighting fixtures, they can be customized to encourage chlorophyll absorption and promote healthy growing, consume far less energy, and cast less heat making it easier to control growing environments.  Quantum dots expand upon these benefits and allow for additional, precise tuning to further enhance chlorophyll absorption peaks and ensure healthier, higher-yielding plants.
  • Architectural Applications (Home and Office): Quantum dots open up additional potential for LED lighting – LED’s currently lack the quality of light while targeting the same warmth and color performance of an incandescent bulb – Quantum Dot’s have the capacity to appeal to a new set of buyers who want the efficiency, quality and economy of the LED, as well as the “effect” of natural light. To date, the use of quantum dots in lighting was hindered by the fact that the technology contained cadmium, a highly-regulated and toxic heavy metal. Nanoco’s technology, made without cadmium or any heavy metal, offers a sustainable solution.

Nanoco has already made significant strides bringing CFQD® Quantum Dots to market. In March, the company announced a partnership with Marl International, a pioneer of the LED lighting industry. Together, the two companies have introduced the world’s first CFQD® Quantum Dot technology lighting product, a high-efficiency LED light with outstanding colour performance that meets a new set of technical and commercial demands without compromising product safety.

Nanoco recently introduced the Deep-Red CFQD® Quantum Dot Film, a new product designed for use in horticultural applications.  The film can be easily incorporated into various LED lighting formats to be used in the propagation and vegetative stage of plant growth, as well as for supplemental lighting in green houses to stimulate greater chlorophyll absorption – important for crops such as basil and lettuce – by working with nature to increase yields and quality.