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Do quantom dot displays pose challenges for OLED?
Alex Wolfgram, DIGITIMES, Taipei

As OLED has been consistently facing mass production issues for applications on large-size displays such as TV panels, and is expected to have high production costs for at least a few more years as industry observers have predicted, display developers have been looking for alternative solutions to providing high contrast and more energy-efficient products to their TV and possibly even tablet, smartphone and notebook customers. One of those solutions is quantum dot display technology.

Quantum dots (QD) or semiconductor nanocrystals are a form of light emitting technology and consist of nano-scale crystals that can provide an alternative for applications such as display technology. This display technology differs from CRTs and LCDs, but it is similar to OLED displays, in that light is supplied on demand, which enables new, more efficient displays and allows for mobile devices with longer battery lives, according to recent reports from New Scientist.

QD displays also consume lower power and have richer color than conventional OLED, claim some analysts. The analysts also state that the white light produced by quantum dots has high brightness and excellent color reproduction, raising its potential to replace the backlight unit (BLU) using the LED to form the "QLED."

But has the technology proved itself in actuality? As of early 2013, Sony used QD components made by QD Vision to improve the color of some of its high-end Bravia TVs, shown at CES 2013. Various analysts who viewed the TV claimed the range of colors it could display was increased by about 50% compared to LCD TVs. Judging by the photos Sony has posted displaying the technology it seems this claim is legit.

Despite QD technology starting to pop up in the market, Digitimes Research has found that no makers of the QD technology have plans to mass produce it in the short term and may need at least another 3-5 years. Samsung Display is also not expected to take priority of the technology and instead will continue development of its OLED research, added Digitimes Research.

OLED is gaining a lot of hype in the market, as it should considering the picture quality it provides. However, despite recent large investments into OLED either through Samsung Display or LG Display, there still has been only little progress in terms of using the technology for large-size applications. A large reason for this, claim the analysts, is that manufacturing OLED displays typically requires depositing organic molecules on the substrate using expensive evaporation techniques, hence the high costs and complicated production process. The analysts also stated the two companies may need another 3 years at least to bring down costs so that OLED TVs may be affordable for consumers, which if true, means that TV vendors could be battling for OLED displays as well as quantum dot display technology in the future.

In the meantime, one thing seems for sure- Samsung and LG are still likely to use OLED, as they have made huge investments in the technology, so it is likely that Japan-based TV vendors who are looking for a new high-end technology for use in their TV products might want to consider investing in the technology perhaps with Sharp, as their Korea-based rivals have their OLED technology niche while China-based TV vendors are largely aiming to get Ultra HD TV panels from Taiwan-based panel makers.

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