Color purity and range have plateaued; new technology from Nanosys promises improvements. When LCD displays took over in the computer and TV industry they brought us thinness, less power consumption, and artificially lower prices, with restricted refresh rates, viewing angle, and color spectrum. Various companies like Dolby, HP, Portrait Displays, and TruSight have built clever technologies to overcome the limitations of the basic twisted nematic (TN) crystals. The biggest breakthroughs have been the substitution of the cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlighting with LEDs. Quite a bit of effort has been put into backlighting LCD panels but LEDs seem to be the best choice for now.
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Nanosys, is a Palo Alto based nanotechnology firm. It develops technology for LED backlighting and energy storage. The reason Nanosys piqued my interest is its new anode material that better manages volumetric expansion of the anode silicon – in short, improving the energy density of the battery. Nanosys has received funding from the DoE to the tune of US$11m to commercialise its anode material for automotive applications. Furthermore, Nanosys’ other technology for LED backlighting is starting to garner commercial success. Whilst being some way from a commercial product for the automotive industry, these two factors can help secure Nanosys’ long term commercial success.
Televisions, computer monitors and smartphones display only a fraction of the colors the human eye can see. But thanks to a new technology developed by a Silicon Valley nanotechnology company, they may soon get a lot more colorful.
Nanosys, which works with materials up to 100,000 times thinner than a human hair, has crafted a thin film laden with minuscule particles that can be placed inside a display to dramatically boost the color range it can show. "Around 30% of what the eye can actually perceive in the real world, your TV can reproduce faithfully," said Jason Hartlove, chief executive of the Palo Alto company. "That's pretty limited. Everything is pretty dull and washed out compared to reality."
Nanosys, the nanotechnology materials company, has really come through with a technology that makes flat-panel displays much brighter and more colorful without increasing their cost, energy consumption or size.
Yesterday, I got a good look at the “wide color gamut” displays that the company can enable with a plastic film that can be used in liquid crystal display (LED) TVs. The Nanosys technology is called Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF). It increases the color gamut (or number of colors) in a display by as much as three times without any increase in cost, size or power consumption.
The Materials Research Society (MRS) has selected Peidong Yang, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to receive the 2011 MRS Medal. This prestigious honor recognizes a specific outstanding recent discovery or advancement that is expected to have a major impact on the progress of a materials-related field. Yang was named MRS medalist for "outstanding contributions in the creative synthesis and assembly of semiconductor nanowires and their heterostructures, and innovations in nanowire-based photonics, thermoelectrics, solar energy conversion and nanofluidic applications."
In this month’s interview, we talk to Jason Hartlove, President & CEO of Nanosys, Inc. Jason has a track record of building and leading innovative companies and business units by driving emerging technologies from R&D to market application. Prior to joining Nanosys he was President of MagnaChip Semiconductor and was responsible for managing all business activities for the Imaging Solutions Division headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Prior to MagnaChip, Mr. Hartlove served as Vice President and General Manager for the Sensor Solutions Division of Agilent Technologies and its parent company Hewlett-Packard. Working in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard Laboratories from 1996, he developed the first commercial implementations of optical position sensing used in optical mice and CMOS image sensor technologies for the company. Mr. Hartlove is the author of more than 20 patents, including the winner of the Hewlett Award in 2004 for best patent in Agilent Technologies. He has also worked in a variety of manufacturing, R&D and marketing roles in semiconductor technologies including MEMS, III -V, bipolar, CMOS and BCD process technologies. Mr. Hartlove holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from UCLA and has completed graduate work at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
We don't necessarily have to wait for companies outside of China to get moving on their rare earth projects. It's worth paying attention to companies like Nanosys, which manufactures more sustainable replacements for some of the rare earths found in LED backlighting. continue reading
When Nanosys CEO Jason Hartlove pulled two iPads out of his bag and turned them on one looked like when I first saw my first Kodachrome slide while the other looked muddy and crappy in comparison (I pulled out my own iPad and saw my screen looked muddy and crappy in comparison too). The new one was clear, beautiful, stunning, with richer colors than I had ever seen on a screen before.
GOOD as modern display screens are, they could be a lot better. Even the best liquid-crystal display (LCD) can produce only about a third of the range of colours which the human eye (in collaboration with the brain) can perceive. But that may soon change, with the deployment in screens of structures called quantum dots.
A quantum dot is a semiconductor crystal a few nanometres (billionths of a metre) across—about 50 atoms wide, in other words. When excited, such crystals emit light. The wavelength, and hence the colour, of this light depends on the size of the dot. Large ones emit long wavelengths (red light). Small ones emit shorter wavelengths (blue). Those in between fill in the spectrum with colours such as green. The plan is to use this property to generate nuances of colour that are beyond the range of existing LCDs.
I just returned from visiting the Palo Alto, CA headquarters of Nanosys (full disclosure: my venture firm Lux Capital is an equity investor). It was an eye-opener. Here’s what you need to know:
What does Nanosys do? If you don’thave a flat-screen TV, this will amaze you. If you already have a flat-screen TV this will make you jealous. Nanosys created a quantum dot technology (size-controlled nanocrystals) that creates a visual experience that is truer to reality by enabling LCDs to display about 50% more color than they can today. This means richer, more viscerally alive reds, a deeper palette of greens (the color the human eye literally sees more than any other color) and vivid blues. Browsing through the photos on your tablet is now more like holding a stack of high quality, professional prints in your hand and watching a movie on the big screen in your living room is more akin to attending a private screening at James Cameron’s studio.
As general counsel and vice president of intellectual property at Palo Alto-based Nanosys Inc., Andrew Filler puts out daily fires while managing the company’s 750-plus patent portfolio. His colleagues describe Filler as careful, a good listener, not too pushy, devoted, a genuinely nice guy, and extremely effective at his job.
He juggles being an adviser to other companies like Caliper Life Sciences Inc., while helping Nanosys complete a $32 million funding round in October as it prepares for a possible initial public offering bid in 2011. Outside the office, he balances a dizzying schedule of world travel, golf, community projects and serving as head coach of his son’s baseball team.
In late January, Nanosys announced it had signed a "definitive commercial agreement" with LG Innotek (LGIT) for the use of Nanosys’ quantum-dot phosphors in displays. The agreement "represents the first real world commercial application of quantum dots in electronics," the Nanosys announcement said. LGIT seemed equally enthusiastic. "Nanosys’ Quantum Rail technology is a solution ready for integration into backlight sub-assemblies without major tooling changes, making it our first choice for our next-generation high color gamut displays," said Charlie (Cheol-Kee) Hong, LGIT VP and head of the company’s R&D Center.
Nanosys fabricates what it calls a Quantum Rail (QR), a continuous component consisting of quantum dot phosphors in a polymer matrix. In a typical LCD edge light application, the QR is fastened with optical adhesive to the strip of blue LEDs that are the light source for the BLU. The "green" quantum dots down-convert the blue light to narrow-spectrum green and emit it into the light-guide plate. The "red" QDs do the same for red. The mixture is also carefully balanced to allow just the right amount of blue light into the light guide, too. This results in narrow-spectrum light sources for R, G and B, whose peaks can be tuned to suit the needs of the application. It produces a triangular color gamut that exceeds 100 percent of AdobeRGB and is considerably greater than the gamut of conventional modern LCDs. It also provides an improvement of 20 percent in power efficiency compared to existing backlight solutions, says Nanosys, probably because the color filter transparency can be increased due to the improved spectrum.