|MIT researchers have improved quantum-dot performance and creation with a new production method that could enable technological applications from more efficient computer displays to enhanced biomedical testing.|
Quantum dots are tiny particles that emit light in a dazzling array of glowing colors. The particles have potential uses for many applications, but have faced a series of hurdles to improved performance.
Now an MIT team says that it has succeeded in overcoming all these obstacles at once, while earlier efforts have only been able to tackle them one or a few at a time.
The new process developed by the MIT team produces quantum dots with four important qualities: uniform sizes and shapes; bright emissions, producing close to 100 percent emission efficiency; a very narrow peak of emissions, with the colors emitted by the particles able to be precisely controlled; and an elimination of a tendency to blink on and off, which limited the usefulness of earlier quantum-dot applications.
The research study was published this week in the journal Nature Materials.
A major factor in getting these particles to achieve all the desired characteristics was growing them in solution slowly, so their properties could be more precisely controlled, MIT chemistry postdoc Ou Chen explains. “A very important thing is synthesis speed,” he says, “to give enough time to allow every atom to go to the right place.”
The slow growth should make it easy to scale up to large production volumes, he says, because it makes it easier to use large containers without losing control over the ultimate sizes of the particles. Chen expects that the first useful applications of this technology could begin to appear within two years.
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