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Samsung makes breakthrough in color display technology

Samsung Electronics said on Wednesday that it has developed the world’s first full-color quantum dot display, paving the way for the next-generation products that are cheaper but more vivid and energy-efficient.

Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals that become luminous in reaction to current or light. They have emerged as a next-generation photonic method due to its finer color expressions and lower power consumption than existing ones like organic light-emitting diodes.

The world’s largest maker of memory chips and flat-screen panels said a team of researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology successfully demonstrated a four-inch, full-color display made through a new patterning method called transfer printing, which would enable production of large-scale quantum dot displays.

The test results were published in international science journal Nature Photonics early this week.

“We’ve converted a scientific challenge into a real technological achievement,” said Kim Jong-min, an SAIT fellow who led the team. “Quantum dots will be the key base technology in displays, LEDs and photovoltaic cells in the future.”

The breakthrough follows Samsung’s earlier achievement of mono-color quantum dot display in 2009.

Scientists around the world have been striving to adopt quantum dots in transistors, solar cells, LEDs, and diode lasers to improve their brightness, visibility and power efficiency.

But size-selective quantum dot patterning by conventional methods has hindered the realization of full-color displays, the Samsung researchers stated in the paper.

Currently, most computer monitors and televisions use energy-eating liquid-crystal displays. OLED screens are more brilliant and affordable in small gadgets but too expensive for TVs, and have limited lifetimes.

Quantum dot displays, in contrast, could consume less than a fifth of the power LCD does, the scientists estimate.

Through the solvent-free transfer of quantum dot films and the compact structure of the quantum dot networks, they printed films that “exhibit excellent morphology, well-ordered structure and clearly defined interfaces,” they added.

The transfer painting scheme also allowed them to demonstrate the prototype not just on glass but also on plastic substrates. The technology prevents screens from shattering and cracking.

Samsung also showed off a prototype of a 4.5-inch flexible OLED display at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. LG Electronics and Sony Corp. have also developed flexible display samples recently. Other companies including Hewlett-Packard are working on similar projects.

DisplaySearch, a market research and consulting firm, projected sales of flexible displays to swell to $8 billion in 2018 from $85 million in 2008.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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