New optical technology from Nanosys and 3M points to brighter TV screens, and profits

A decade after helping make flat-screen TVs the norm in living rooms, 3M Co. plans to add some color. It's more than just a dash of brightness. 3M's new quantum dot enhancement film -- or QDEF -- is engineered to make the reds, greens and blues on any flat screen deeper and richer.

It also is designed to make money again for 3M. Optical film sales to electronics manufacturers once generated 3M's highest profit margins.

But in recent years, 3M has seen industrial sales of its optical film products top out, as the recession hit and fewer people were buying new screens for their homes.

When 3M CEO Inge Thulin highlighted some of the company's new "disruptive technologies" in a conference call last week, he noted that the

3M senior physics research specialist David Lamb demonstrates how quantom dot enhancement film improves color saturation in the reds and greens of a flat-screen TV.