Quantum Dot technology is all the rage with the latest TVs (and most recently, PC monitors). Though still not considered on the same ballpark in terms of image quality as OLED, the technology does have some advantages and potential for further development: it’s cheaper than a conventional OLED screen, and isn’t prone to image quality loss over time as OLED still is.
Samsung has been heavily pushing quantum dots in their newest televisions in order to increase their color gamut without having to make use of backlights with multi-color LEDs. With Ultra HD content being mastered in the DCI-P3 or Rec. 2020 color spaces, this has become a necessary feature in high end televisions and monitors for content creation.
And so, Samsung is bidding to increase their leverage in the Quantum Dot space, having confirmed that they have acquired QD Vision, the US-based provider of quantum dot technology for consumer displays (though no details regarding the pricing of the acquisition have as of yet been made public).
Simplifying things greatly, quantum dots are incredibly small particles. They range between 2 to 10 nanometers in diameter, which is roughly equivalent to 50 atoms. The colour light that a quantum dot emits is directly related to its size; smaller dots appear blue, larger ones tend to the red side of the spectrum. In LCD screens they’re applied as a way of eliminating the need for White LED backlights and colour filters.
Instead of using existing White LEDs (which have yellow phosphors) that produce a broad light spectrum that makes it hard to efficiently produce saturated colors, Quantum Dots directly convert the light from Blue LEDs into highly saturated narrow band primary colors for LCDs.
QD Vision’s technology works in a different manner from the technology Samsung currently uses in their televisions. In order to support HDR, non-OLED televisions need to use full array backlighting so regions can be dimmed locally, and employing quantum dots in this situation requires that a film layer be used between the backlight and the LCD array, whose costs increase with bigger displays. QD Vision’s technology, however, works with edge-lit displays, placing tubes of quantum dots between the LEDs and the guide plate that distributes light across the display. It’s not clear where Samsung plans to utilize QD Vision’s technology, but the technology could play a big role in bringing wide color gamuts to lower cost displays (since full array backlighting with local dimming is so expensive these days), and QD Vision’s technology and patents related to quantum dots also have value to Samsung for further development of the technology in general.