Nanoco Group PLC

Driving Nanoco’s “Innovation DNA”: Dr. Nigel Pickett

Published on 22/10/2015

A passion to push the boundaries of CFQD® quantum dots for a range of new applications is at the heart of everything we do here at Nanoco Technologies. Innovation is not only the essence of our products and technology, you can also find it in the hearts of our people.

The Nanoco team is comprised of the brightest scientific and entrepreneurial minds from around the world.  To introduce you to these great thinkers and organizational teams, we’re proud to introduce a new blog series to spotlight some of Nanoco’s key contributors.  And who better to kick off this series than our co-founder, Dr Nigel Pickett.

For Nigel, the continued drive for innovation — even more than a decade after founding Nanoco — comes from the thrill of creating a technology, then watching that technology go from the bench through to commercial application. The foundation of CFQD® quantum dot innovation at Nanoco is built on Nigel’s fascination with this nanoparticle, how best to manufacture it at scale, and the scope of its many possible uses.

Back in the ‘90s, Nigel recalls the buzz around quantum dots and their potential for new and exciting applications. The problem was, there was no way to scale quantum dot manufacturing to make commercial uses practical. As Nigel points out, “You could put quantum dots into television to improve color performance and energy efficiency.  But if the quantum dots would cost thousands of pounds to manufacture just a tiny quantity, they weren’t economically viable.”

Nigel first became involved in quantum dot research as an academic, working at leading universities around the world. While working as a senior research fellow at the University of Manchester and Manchester Materials Science Centre, he began tackling the scale problem hindering the broad adoption of quantum dots.  Nigel’s breakthrough innovation — devising a patented molecular seeding process that allows for the production of uniform high quality quantum dots in large volume — was the bedrock of his co-founding of Nanoco in 2001.

It was another early insight by Nigel and the founding team that led to one of the most important pivots in Nanoco’s history: the growing reality that cadmium-based quantum dots were not the future of the industry. Legislation, particularly in the European market, was putting increasing limits on the use of dangerous heavy metals like cadmium in products, and manufacturers were growing wary.

Pickett and his team went back to the Nanoco drawing board to reinvent the company’s quantum dot chemistry in a way that facilitated the manufacture of high volumes of quantum dots but without the inclusion of cadmium and other heavy metals. This technology shift was an integral part of Nanoco’s ongoing push toward improvement. “We continue to improve the quality of our particles constantly over time, even now.”

Today, thanks to Nigel’s ongoing and integral contributions, Nanoco is the industry leader in CFQD® quantum dot technology.  Through our partnership with The Dow Chemical Company, Nanoco’s global licensing partner, Dow is constructing the world’s first large-scale CFQD® quantum dot manufacturing plant capable of supporting the manufacture of “millions of cadmium-free quantum dot televisions and other display applications.”  Our partnership with MARL International, an industry leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of LED products and systems, will also help us make advancements with new LED lighting applications for retail, agriculture and architectural applications.

It’s an exciting time for us at Nanoco and we’re proud to have Nigel’s vision for the future of CFQD® quantum dots as our guiding force.