TV Giants Ramp Up Use Of Quantum Dot Technology As OLED Use Dwindles

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Michael O'Donnell

Michael O'Donnell

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics showed off new TV’s featuring “quantum dot” technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, marking a new wave of color enhanced televisions on the way in the near future.

However, TV giants advocating the use of quantum dot technology means a longer wait for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology which promises thinner frames, increased energy efficiency and crisper images.

In fact, Samsung introduced the its first OLED television set with a curved screen in 2013 with plans to mass produce them in 2014, but that idea never came to fruition.

Now, it looks like it could be years before we see OLED technology regularly utilized for television sets.

“We feel that we need a little more time for OLED to become mainstream,” said Kim Hyun-suk, the head of Samsung’s television business, in an interview.

He added, Samsung has no plans of pulling the plug on OLED technology but that mastering it for mass production has proven to be tedious and a process that needs to be explored more.

OLED allows screens to be thinner and more energy-efficient because it does not require a backlight, leading to crisper images. Samsung has been using OLED screens for smartphones for years but perfecting the technology for the company’s televisions has been a challenge, sometimes resulting in the end product costing three to four times the price of an equivalent LCD model.

LCD screens can come with a color gamut of 75%, meaning out of 100 colors, they can replicate 75. Quantum dot on the other hand boosts this number to around 95%, and OLED technology has the ability to replicate all 100 colors!

Quantum dot technology encompasses a bundle of nanocrystals emitting different colors. Television makers simply add a thin film made up of quantum-dot materials to existing LCD structures in order to greatly improve the color expression.

DisplaySearch estimates shipments of quantum-dot LCD television sets will reach 5-million in 2016 out of the 242-million LCD television sets projected to be shipped, easily surpassing OLED television shipments of approximately 1-million units.

The production cost of quantum dot televisions is half of similar OLED models and manufacturers have figured out how to mass produce quantum dot TV’s in environmentally friendly ways.

Sharp chief technology officer Shigeaki Mizushima said during a media round table last week, “We’ve been studying quantum-dot technology for more than a decade so we can start mass producing televisions using the technology any time. But we are still examining whether it is the right approach,” citing the sets’ vulnerability to heat as a potential issue.

LG chief technology officer Scott Ahn spoke about quantum dot and said in an interview, “It’s definitely an interim step. When OLED prices come down, quantum dot won’t have a place to stand.”

“OLED is a great panel technology but it’s difficult to make an affordable television for now,” Sony product information manager Philip Jones said.

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