Nanoco Group PLC

OCT Bravo, Blue LED

Published on 31/10/2014

Earlier this month, scientists Shuji Nakamura, Hiroshi Amano and Isamu Akasaki were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), “a new energy efficient and environmentally friendly light source.”  The LEDs, according to the Nobel Assembly, “triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology,” which has found its way into our homes, our work environments and many of the electronics (think TVs and cell phones) we use daily. As with many great inventions before them, LEDs have led to a wealth of opportunity and spurred further innovation – especially in the realm of phosphors and quantum dots.

At Nanoco, we talk a lot about creating light that people like. While incandescent bulbs fell short in many areas, consumers grew accustomed to and appreciated the “warmth” of light produced by wire filaments. While the LEDs are a remarkable leap forward, they’ve not been able to mimic the color performance of an incandescent light source. That’s because current methods for producing white light from a blue LED tend to produce light that is weak in red wavelengths, it lacks warmth, and is limited in its ability to display true color. Quantum dots have the potential to overcome these issues and promote the widespread adoption of LEDs in certain lighting applications. During the past year, Nanoco has been working with the world’s leading lighting companies, including Osram, to develop an LED that incorporates our cadmium-free quantum dots with blue LEDs. The end product would deliver substantially improved color accuracy and performance to LEDs.

And lighting is just the beginning of the range of potential applications. As Kevin Bullis at MIT Technology Review notes: “Blue LEDs are also used to produce the white backlight in…conventional LCD displays, which produce red and green light using materials known as phosphors. The high color quality, compact size, and high efficiency of LED backlights made possible the ultrathin, vivid displays we have now in smartphones, tablets, and laptops.” The high quality enabled by the blue LED now has the potential to become “true to life” with quantum dots.

Last week, Nanoco presented at the SSL Investor Forum at the Strategies in Light (SIL) Conference, Europe where we discussed the exciting future for quantum dots in display and lighting applications. In our vision for this future, the LCD market will be re-energized and the lighting market further revolutionized through the use of quantum dots.

While the winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics enabled ultra-efficient lighting, they also created the foundation for an entire industry, all built on their remarkable breakthrough more than three decades in the making.