Among the many subsets of nanomaterials, quantum dots (QDs) are like no other. At dimensions typically below 10 nanometers (nm), nanocrystalline (nc) semiconductors (SC), metals, and magnetic materials can all exhibit extraordinary quantum confinement phenomenon. Basically, at these dimensions, their physical size encroaches upon the fundamental quantum confinement dimensions of orbiting electrons that are uniquely prescribed by their atomic nucleus. Within the regime of these critical dimensions, QDs exhibit distinctly different behavior from their bulk form, which manifests itself, for example, in distinctly different optical, electronic, and magnetic properties.
Today, scientists can precisely synthesize nanocrystalline materials at these critical dimensions and thereby systematically tune their quantum confining behavior. As a result, there is currently enormous interest in exploiting and capitalizing on the unique properties exhibited by QD materials. As a harbinger for future business developments, colloidal QD-bioconjugates are among the first wave of commercial product applications stimulating market interest. Primarily, these have quickly established a niche market in the life sciences and biomedical communities, where they provide unrivalled cellular imaging and therapeutic detection capabilities. Other promising prototype developments of SC QDs now on the commercial-horizon include: a new generation of flash memory devices; nanomaterial enhancements for improving the performance of flexible organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs), as well as solid-state white-LED lighting; and a core technology used in flexible solar panel coatings.
With these impending commercial developments and their enormous business potential, this report provides a timely assessment of quantum dot materials—where they currently are, and where they might be in the foreseeable future.
STUDY GOAL AND OBJECTIVES
The primary objective of this report is threefold: (1) to assess the current state-of-the-art in synthesizing QDs; (2) to identify the current market players seeking to exploit QD behavior; and (3) to evaluate actual or potential markets in terms of application, type, and projected market revenues.
SCOPE OF REPORT
Since their simultaneous discovery in Russia and the U.S. almost 30 years ago, SC QDs, until quite recently, have resided exclusively in the domain of solid state physics, where they have been fabricated using expensive and sophisticated molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD) equipment. However, in a relatively short time frame this situation has changed dramatically with the recent commercial availability of colloidal QDs synthesized by less expensive wet-chemical processes. Practically, the availability of QDs in a colloidally dispersed form will help demystify these somewhat esoteric materials. Most importantly, colloidal-QDs now provide access to a much broader audience, which promises to further widen their potential market exploitation.
Current and future applications of QDs impact a broad range of industrial markets. These include, for example, biology and biomedicine; computing and memory; electronics and displays; optoelectronic devices such as LEDs, lighting, and lasers; optical components used in telecommunications; and security applications such as covert identification tagging or biowarfare detection sensors.
This report probes in considerable depth the early pioneers and champions in this field both in industry, government, and academic laboratories. The most active organizations, promising technical applications, and developments realizable within the next 5 years, will all be highlighted.
This report represents a major update of the BCC Research report (NAN027B) Quantum Dots: Technologies and Commercial Prospects, published in September 2008. The most significant revisions in the new edition include:
- An extensive updated patent analysis (2008 to 2010)
- An in-depth assessment of the unfolding commercial markets
- Progress in the synthesis and commercial scaleup by QD producers
- Updated company profiles of the producers and end users dictating market development
- Updated 5-year market projection analysis of the emerging QD market
This is the third exclusive report to focus on QD nanomaterials from the perspective of their technology, applications, and future business prospects. Thus, this up-to-date technical assessment and business analysis should prove an especially valuable resource to individuals and organizations seeking more insight into the current status of QDs, their stand-alone capabilities within the spectrum of nanomaterials, and time-to-market commercial development. The report’s comprehensive technical and business assessment on the current status of the QD-based industry should prove informative to nanomaterials manufacturers, investors seeking near-term commercialization opportunities, technologists confronted with nanomaterial device integration issues, and companies specifically interested in exploiting QDs in biological, biomedical, electronics, energy, optics, optoelectronics, and security applications.
METHODOLOGY AND SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this report. This report is primarily derived from the enormous amount of patent and technical literature relating to QDs disclosed in the public domain. In addition, complementary information has also been drawn from the business community, such as company investment news, company profiles, press releases, and personal telephone interviews with selected companies.