Chemicals giant 3M has announced a partnership with Nanosys to commercialise the company's Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF) technology to improve the colour gamut of liquid-crystal displays.

Display technology has changed drastically since colour liquid-crystal display panels were first suggested as an alternative to bulky, power-hungry cathode ray tubes. The move to LCD allowed genuine laptops - as opposed to portable and luggable computers - to be created for the first time, and more recent innovations have included Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) and In-Plane Switching (IPS) technologies for sharper, clearer and lower-power displays.

One aspect of display technology which has largely stagnated, however, is the colour gamut - the number of distinct colours an LCD screen can display. A prototype display created by Sharp in 2009 promised a gamut extension by adding cyan and yellow to the usual red, green and blue colour elements for a claimed coverage of 99 per cent of the Pointer colour space, but most computer monitors still languish with diminished colour reproduction. According to 3M, the majority of displays are limited to reproducing 35 per cent or less of the visible colour spectrum.

The Nanosys Quantum Dot Enhancement Film promises to change all that: 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, the company's quantum dots are able to emit light at a very precise wavelength. By creating a film made up of trillions of these tiny dots, Nanosys claims that an LCD's backlight can be enhanced and the colour gamut massively improved.

'We are working together to improve an area of display performance that has been largely neglected for the last decade,' claimed Jason Hartlove, president and chief executive officer of Nanosys, regarding the partnership with 3M. 'Improving colour performance for LCDs with drop-in solutions will bring a stunning new visual experience to the consumer and a competitive advantage to the LCD manufacturer against new display technologies such as OLED. Working together with 3M and utilising their outstanding design and supply chain capabilities will allow our QDEF technology to be widely deployed across all product segments and will ensure availability to all customers.'

Unlike rival gamut-expanding technologies, Nanosys claims that QDEF requires no equipment or process changes for manufacturers and can be quickly and cheaply integrated into the production pipeline of any LCD manufacturer without heavy up-front costs.

Sadly, despite its drop-in applicability, neither 3M nor Nanosys is able to provide a timescale as to when the technology will appear in commercially-available displays.
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