Skip to Main Content

Strategic Business Insights (SBI) logo

Nanoelectronics November 2020 Viewpoints

Technology Analyst: Sean R. Barulich

3D-Printed Quantum-Dot Displays

By Alastair Cunningham
Cunningham is an independent consultant specializing in nanomaterials and electronics.

Why is this topic significant?

Display resolution is perhaps the most important parameter that electronics players use to differentiate their products. Recent research established a novel technique that significantly pushes the boundaries of display resolution.

Description

In July 2020, researchers from the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) published the results of their research into the use of 3D-printing techniques for the fabrication of super-high-resolution displays. This research represents the first use of 3D quantum-dot architectures for nanoscale pixels. The scientists embed the quantum dots in polymer nanowire structures in order to build the pixels up into the third dimension. Under electrical or photonic stimulation, the quantum dots emit highly monochromatic light, the color of which primarily depends on the material and the size of the nanoparticle. Building the pixels into the third dimension enables a brightness that is double that of more standard two-dimensional structures. The researchers prepared pixels that measure 620 nanometers (nm) across and 10,000 nm high (5,600 pixels per inch), corresponding to a resolution that is 50 times greater than that of an 8K quantum-dot light-emitting-diode television (100 pixels per inch), is considerably higher than that of other leading display technologies such as laptops (200 pixels per inch) or smartphones (800 pixels per inch), and is greater than that of the current limit of commercially available technology (1,000 pixels per inch). Furthermore, the technique is entirely compatible with flexible substrates, leading to potential flexible and wearable applications.

Implications

The KERI research represents a significant advance within the display industry, with potentially massive commercial implications. All major players within the electronics industry are searching for a means to gain a competitive advantage and differentiate their products, with high-resolution displays providing the perfect opportunity to provide added value to the consumer. The use of 3D-printing techniques in combination with quantum-dot materials to produce super-high-resolution displays could represent an opportunity for these companies to gain such a competitive edge and establish a leading position within this market. Further collaborative research with a major player in the electronics industry is the most likely option for this technology to reach consumer markets. The KERI research team has taken first steps toward making this goal happen by filing a patent application for the technology and is now looking for industrial partners with which to move forward with this research.

Impacts/Disruptions

Quantum dots are now a cornerstone technology within the display industry, finding use in liquid-crystal displays since 2013. However, the KERI development has the potential to be even more disruptive and could set a new standard for display technology in the coming decade. The outstanding technical parameters could potentially lead to a number of innovations within the sector, ranging from the integration of augmented and virtual-reality technology into standard displays to the development of a new generation of projection systems. Other potential areas that the KERI researchers are considering include the use of the technology for ultra-high-density data storage and anticounterfeit applications.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: High

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Display, flexible electronics, wearable electronics, data storage, anti-counterfeiting

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas:

Key Areas to Monitor: Computing, Security, and IT Demand

Why is this topic significant?

Stakeholders should monitor key issues and uncertainties that could have a significant impact on how companies further commercialize nanoelectronics technologies.

Computing and Security

Classical computing using transistor-based logic circuits, in which electrical charge represents the 1 and 0 states, remains the prevailing method of computation, and efforts are focusing on increasing transistor speed, reducing gate-transit time, and decreasing the time for processor-to-memory interconnection. Massively parallel supercomputers require optical backplanes and switches, but computing is still electrical and classical. Complex problems in physics, chemistry, and biology as well as security algorithms demand higher and higher levels of processing power, and nanotechnology has several potential roles to play. For example, molecular computing, still classical in its function, uses single molecules to form electronic components such as transistors; quantum computing by means of a quantum state (such as the spin of an electron, magnetic-flux quanta, or photon polarization) as the computational unit can provide exponential levels of computing power. Though still immature, quantum computing is making rapid advances and could provide a discontinuity in processing power. New computing performance and methods have implications for security, but the rising threat from cyberwarfare is also a driver for new cryptographic methods, including those that rely on quantum cryptography. Implications exist for nanotechnology approaches that enable single-photon emitters and detectors.

Stakeholders should watch for:

  • Advances in quantum-computing systems, including higher qubit count, connectivity improvements, measurement-error reductions, and the expansion of cloud-based quantum-computing services
  • New synthesis and material-processing techniques that streamline the development of single-photon emitters and integrated circuits in quantum-computing systems
  • Research into functional nanomaterials that can serve as quantum materials for quantum sensing and quantum-communication systems.

IT Demand

Demand for information-technology (IT) devices continues to be the key driver for the electronics and semiconductor industries. This development, fueled by the market for portable electronic devices, does not look set to abate, and device manufacturers continue to invest in new technologies for displays, processors, and sensors that differentiate products from competitors' offerings. IT demand also encompasses the potential growth of very-low-cost Internet of Things devices, including printed radio-frequency-identification devices and compact sensors that may embed in clothing, objects, or the environment. Demand for automation technologies promises to drive interest in compact and efficient electronics that various environments can deploy to support sensing and data aggregation. Exponentially increasing volumes of data and the rise of big-data applications are particular driving forces for innovation in, for example, the data-storage industry. Much of that innovation will arise from developments in the field of nanoelectronics.

Stakeholders should watch for:

  • Changes in enterprise and consumer demand for devices that support workplace collaboration, distance learning, and telehealth applications
  • Rising interest and investment in technologies including sensors, wireless communication technologies, and robotics that support automation-technology deployments in public infrastructure and factories
  • Innovations in nanomaterials that enable new data-storage technologies and batteries that promise significant improvements in portable electronics.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: High

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 15 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Computing, consumer electronics, automation, sensors, materials research

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas: