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Argonne National Laboratory, CC BY-NC-SA

Quantum Dot Televisions Are Coming to a Living Room Near You

BEC CREW
7 JANUARY 2015

A new quantum dot television has been shown at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world's largest consumer electronics and technology exhibition for technology that will become available in the next 12 months. 

 

At the event, Korean electronics and display manufacturer LG announced its new 4K ultra high-definition television displays (UHDTVs) that use quantum dot technology to provide better colour images. 

The reason for using quantum dot technology for your displays, instead of LCD or LED displays, is because it’s designed to stop extra light from getting trapped in the internal filter, so it can produce more robust colours without interference. 

According to Laurence Murphy at The Conversation, it works by having a beam of blue light shone through a series of nanocrystals made from cadmium selenide. Each nanocrystal measures 2 to 10 nanometres (nm) across, and depending on its size, will emit a different colour. Because this colour is dependant on its shape, it will never, ever falter. "Those 4.2 nm quantum dots ... will produce that exact same shade of red tomorrow and 20 years from tomorrow because it's not tinting a white source light - the quantum dots produce only that wavelength of red light when activated," says Andrew Tarantola at Gizmodo

When they're being produced for television screens, films of these nanocrystals are arranged between layers of semiconducting materials, so as voltage is applied to the whole arrangement, electrons are free to slot themselves into the quantum dot layer and produce photons, or light particles, says Tarantola.

A special film made from nanocrystals that emit red or green light is added to the front of the screen’s backlight, so when the blue light is shone through them, they combine to produce white light, which interacts with the rest of the quantum dots to produce a colour display. "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," says Murphy at The Conversation. "This means better colour rendition and brighter colours.”

With the integration of quantum dot technology into consumer electronics, we’re seeing a quick march towards ultra high-definition television displays (UHDTV) - the best contrast, highest saturation, huge range of colours. While LG’s quantum dot television probably won’t be for everyone the moment they come out - people who produce images for a living, such as photographers, film producers, digital artists and graphic designers, will get on it first - the technology will likely replace LCD and LED displays in future years. 

Murphy says the reason this technology will so quickly hit the market is because the standards for what makes UHDTV ultra high-definition have already been set. "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,” he says.

And it’s coming at just the right time. People in broadcast television and cinema already know how to produce ultra high-definition images, but there’s not a whole lot of use doing that if consumers don’t have televisions that can display it properly. Quantum dot televisions will hopefully match everybody up and we can get on with seeing ridiculously beautiful colours the way the future intended. 

And the best part? Quantum dots are way cheaper than other high-quality display technologies, such organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), as Tarantola reports at Gizmodo:

"There's no always-on back light, each quantum dot-lit pixel only turns on when it's actually needed. This saves as much as 50 percent of the energy needed to illuminate a similarly-sized LCD screen while being 50 to 100 times brighter and expanding the available colour gamut (the total theoretical number of colours a screen can produce) by up to 30 percent."

So this is happening now, and your huge LED or LCD TV is about to get, as Jerry Seinfeld says, "quite lame". As Murphy reports at The Conversation, "For 2015 and the foreseeable future, the world's best video and image reproduction for high-definition content will be delivered with quantum dots."

To understand more how quantum dots work, watch this:

Sources: The Conversation, Gizmodo