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 to exploit and capitalize 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 range 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 are currently at, and where they might be in the foreseeable future.
STUDY GOAL AND OBJECTIVES
The primary objective of this report is threefold: to assess the current state-of-the-art in synthesizing QDs; to identify the current market players seeking to exploit QD behavior; and to evaluate actual or potential markets in terms of application, type and projected commercial market revenues.
SCOPE AND FORMAT
Since their parallel 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 in telecommunications and image sensors; 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 in industry, government and academic laboratories. The most active organizations, promising technical applications, and developments realizable within the next five years, will all be highlighted.
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