The future is bright, the future is quantum dot televisions

January 6, 2015 by Laurence Murphy, The Conversation
Pure, bright, quantum colours. Credit: Argonne National Laboratory, CC BY-NC-SA

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has arrived again, the world's largest consumer electronics and technology exhibition in Las Vegas, where manufacturers will show off the new technologies available in 2015.

Wearables, 3D printers, curved displays and other technology that has graduated from the cutting edge into products available to the consumer – all of them have had their moment in the spotlight at CES.

Korean electronics and display manufacturer LG has set the ball rolling by announcing its 4K ultra high-definition television displays (UHDTVs) that use quantum dot technology, an improved method for producing colour displays.

What exactly is a quantum dot?

A significant improvement on existing LCD or LED methods, the technology works by shining blue light through nanocrystals of varying size from two to ten nanometres, which absorb light of one wavelength and emit light of another, very specific wavelength. Each dot emits a different colour depending on its size. A film of of a size suitable to produce red and is added in front of the screen's backlight. Generating light via the quantum dots narrows the wavelength of the red and green light produced, meaning less light is caught by the LCD filter. This means better colour rendition and brighter colours.

LG got its announcement in ahead of other manufacturers to try and gain a lead by associating its products with the higher contrast, improved saturation, and impressively wide colour gamut (the range of colours a display can reproduce) that quantum dots provide. This makes such displays ideal for viewing high-definition and ultra high-definition content, and for those working in graphic design, photo or film production.

Upgrading 'broadcast quality'

The move towards UHDTV is not just about more pixels and higher-resolution screens. Manufacturers and broadcasters want to create an environment where video and images can be delivered to the public with as high a dynamic range as possible, while remaining economical to manufacture.

Cadmium-based quantum dot showing pure, highly specific green colour response. Credit: NASA

And this isn't in the far future; in fact, the new standards – required for all technologies to become established – have already been sanctioned. The ITU-rec 2020 standard for ultra high-definition television allows for higher frame rates of up to 120 fps, higher bit rates and larger contrast and colour gamuts.

At the moment, content termed "high-definition" is broadcast at 1920 x 1080 pixels with a specific frame rate, range of colour and contrast, allowing consistent reproduction across all compatible displays. But both the broadcast and cinema industries can already produce material that exceeds these standards, there are just no devices yet that can take advantage of the best-quality images possible – there isn't much point delivering more information than the current displays can handle.

So the use of quantum dots extends the capability of ultra high-definition displays, allowing the delivery of higher media to the public in the future. As a bonus, quantum dots are significantly cheaper than other competing high-quality display technologies, such as OLED, , which were heralded as the next big thing at previous CES shows, but whose star is already waning.

At the moment quantum dots are being used only combined with other types of backlights, but it's possible to engineer a method of using them without. In any case, for 2015 and the foreseeable future, the world's best video and image reproduction for high-definition content will be delivered with quantum dots.

Explore further: Glasses-free ultrahigh-definition 2D/3D switching display

Related Stories

Glasses-free ultrahigh-definition 2D/3D switching display

December 30, 2014

Toshiba Corporation has developed a new technology for glasses-free 3D displays that uses a low-crosstalk, high-definition LCD GRIN lens with a 15-inch 4K LCD panel. The technology realizes a highly portable, compact display ...

TV makers out to ignite market with super high-def

January 6, 2015

After several years of sluggish sales, television manufacturers are pegging growth hopes on new technologies that deliver a more immersive and interactive experience and stunningly realistic image displays.

Sony TVs show high-end color via quantum dot tech

January 15, 2013

(—Sony's Bravia LCD TVs, in selected models, have incorporated quantum dot technology to boost sales of these high-end televisions by featuring exceptionally high-end color. The technology is from the Massachusetts-based ...

Quantum dots provide complete control of photons

January 31, 2014

By emitting photons from a quantum dot at the top of a micropyramid, researchers at Linköping University are creating a polarized light source for such things as energy-saving computer screens and wiretap-proof communications.

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2015
So we can watch the same old rubbish on TV but in super duper resolution. Why am I not inspired? Could some more of the massive dev budget be diverted to the content providers?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.