Quantum Materials Scales Up Quantum Dot Production for Solar, Display and Lighting Markets
Use of high-speed roll-to-roll processes such as gravure printing may provide significant cost advantages.
By: David Savastano, PrintedElectronicsNow.com
Quantum dots (QD) are drawing a lot of attention in a wide range of industries, from displays and lighting to solar panels. According to BCC Research, manufacturing of quantum dots, essentially semiconductor nanocrystals, is forecasted to be a $7.5 billion industry by 2022.
San Marcos, TX-based Quantum Materials Corp. is one of the leading companies in the field of quantum dots. Quantum Materials manufactures Tetrapod Quantum Dots using the company’s patented automated manufacturing process to scale production to the mass quantities required for thin film solar, ultra-high resolution display and next generation solid state (beyond LED) lighting industry adoption.
Quantum Materials made headlines in August 2014, when it acquired five patent families from Bayer, and again in October 2014, when the company announced it is scaling volume production of photoactive quantum dots for use in next-generation photovoltaic solar power technologies. The company will quadruple its quantum dot production space when its new lab and offices are completed on or before June 2015.
The ability to efficiently transform light into electricity and electricity into colors is key to the potential for quantum dot technology, and the ability to produce these materials in thin-film roll-to-roll processes such as gravure printing could revolutionize these fields.
“Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals no larger than 2-5 nanometers (a billionth of an inch) that can transform light into electricity for solar energy and change electricity into individual luminescent colors for solid-state lighting and new 4K+ UHD TV displays,” said Stephen B. Squires, Quantum Materials Corp. chairman and CEO.
“Quantum dots, when used in solid-state lighting, will bring greater than 92% energy savings over incandescent light bulbs,” Squires added. “Next-generation QD solar cell factories will use new thin-film roll-to-roll printing methods at less than 20% the capital expenditure for silicon panel plants. The lighting and solar energy markets are relatively young in the nanotechnology cycle, yet each are $100 billion/year industries.”
Quantum Materials’ ability to scale up production should make quantum dots more economically attractive.
“The current retail prices for quantum dots made manually are more than 50 times that of gold by weight,” Squires noted. “With the ability to scale-up mass production, Quantum Materials is able to meet the increasing demand for high performance, yet economically viable quantum dots.”
Squires said that there are a number of attractive markets for quantum dots.
“Our initial markets are for thin film solar energy panels, ultra-high resolution and low power consumption displays for televisions, computers and mobile devices and next generation solid state (beyond LED) lighting applications, “ he said. “Quantum dots will affect many other fields of science, including health care, cell imaging and tracking, quantum computing, sensors, lasers and security.
“Quantum Materials is under NDA with leading global display, lighting and photovoltaic solar manufacturers needing Tetrapod Quantum Dots,” Squires added. “Quantum Materials automated production sets it apart in the industry.”
It is the ability to mass produce quantum dots, potentially through gravure or other high-speed roll-to-roll processes, is a major advantage for Quantum Materials.
“Our patented automated manufacturing process allow us to scale production to the mass quantities required for thin film solar, ultra-high resolution display and next generation solid state (beyond LED) lighting industry adoption,” Squires said.
“We own or have exclusive license to fundamental printing technologies that expand the use of quantum dots in flexible printed electronics and for quantum dot solar cell factory production,” he added. “Quantum Materials’ wholly-owned subsidiary, Solterra Renewable Technologies, will make low-cost solar cells using our easily scaled production of quantum dots to meet the materials demands of daily roll-to-roll solar cell production.”
Quantum Materials estimates that just a single Solterra Quantum Dot Solar Cells (QDSC) plant can be scaled up to produce 1000 megawatts per year of printed solar cells using its own dedicated production of QMC quantum dots, with a cost goal of below 12¢ per kWh.
The addition of Bayer’s patent families, as well as some patents from Virginia Tech, provide Quantum Materials with new technologies to develop.
“In August 2014 we purchased five patent families from Bayer Technologies that expand our materials, automated manufacturing and devices intellectual property, while also providing additional protection for our own developed processes,” Squires said. “We have also acquired from Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties the license for Uncloneable Quantum Dot 3D Security technology with wide applications protecting against counterfeit 3D products.
“We are also producing a premium line of Quantum Dots utilizing Los Alamos National Labs ‘Thick-Shell’ Giant Quantum Dot technology,” Squires added. “By adding 16 layers to the quantum dot shell, they achieved dramatic increases in brightness, lifetime and other singular advantages. Only Quantum Materials’ automated production system is capable of the repetitive cycles necessary to economically add many nanoscale layers.”
With an abundance of technologies in place and a new manufacturing facility in the works, Squires believes that Quantum Materials is ideally situated to become the leader in quantum dot production.
“Quantum Materials Corp is positioned to become the industry leader in quality and production of Tetrapod Quantum Dots and related technologies,” Squires concluded.