Smart Flexible Quantum Dot Lighting

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

cQD are attracting significant interest as the key components for next-generation smart displays/lightings, photo detectors and image sensors, and solar cells. This is because they show excellent and unique physical properties such as i) high sensitivity and quantum efficiency, ii) excellent colour gamut with narrow emission (absorption) bandwidths, iii) colour tunability/band gap engineering through size control, iv) high photostability and v) high air stability as they are based on inorganic materials. Therefore, since the latest results on cQD LEDs and image sensors/photodetector have demonstrated the possibility of integration of cQD optoelectronics with current semiconducting technologies, the pace of research in the cQD area has been accelerated dramatically and an increasing number of research groups and companies are currently active in this area worldwide.
The investigators expect that cQD LED will replace current technologies through: (1) Superior reliability of the inorganic structure in an almost air barrier free architecture w.r.t OLED (WVTR of 10-6 g/m2/day), (2) Lower power consumption and low product cost, 60 and 50 % less than current OLED, respectively, and (3) Colour purity of 110% or greater compared to typically 80% for OLED.
This project will address will enhance the current state of the art to achieve cost reduction through using continuous, as opposed batch, cQD synthesis, mono layer resin free processing, all inorganic interface materials such as ETL (electron transport layer) and HTL (hole transport layer), device integration and packaging for EL cQD LED, with Cd-free cQDs for smart lighting and displays.
The project proposed builds upon research established in the investigators' groups in Cambridge and Oxford. We are well equipped with facilities for pilot fabrication using technologies which will underpin the commercialisation of cQD LED based lighting/displays. The final deliverable will be energy efficient 4" active devices with predictable life times, and sustainable high brightness for flexible smart lighting. The elements of the smart light which will include colour hue and brightness control based on active matrix switching of pixels will also be applicable to displays, but without the same high pixel definition.
We shall explore the design and synthesis of Cd-free cQDs with the core/shell structures using continuous flow production methods which can then be incorporated into active devices. Key to successfully implementing devices are the scalable production of high quality cQDs with specific surface passivation and functionalisation which limit the effects of impurities and defects and produce high quality thin films with well understood interfaces. In this project we will use scalable production techniques that can be transferred to in-line process for mass production. We shall focus on the manufacturing and processing aspects to create mono layer-controlled cQD films with entire close-packed and almost void free structure using dry-transfer printing methods. This will enhance efficiency and reliability of film for the desired mode of devices. Interface control based on a monolayer level layer-by-layer transfer process will be employed in order to obtain highly uniform monolayers which can be expanded to multilayer stacked film processing including interface layers. The interface materials for emissive cQD film with inorganic HTL and ETL layer for EL devices will also be designed and fabricated at the device integration step (WP 2-3). Driving electronics using TFTs will be designed for reliable and stable operation.
Industrial partners in the supply chain for smart flexible lighting production, are: CDT Ltd for materials, lighting, metrology; CPI Ltd, Dupont-Teijin Films UK for flexible films for lighting; Emberion UK, Dyson, FlexEnable, Samsung UK for device processing, and system integration; Aixtron UK for TCF; Nanoco and Merck as materials suppliers and EAB members.

Planned Impact

Science and technological innovation on colloidal Quantum Dots (cQD) has the potential to increase energy efficiency in visual and lighting systems while also enabling new paradigms of functionality. This project will advance cQD-based scalable materials, their manufacturing processes and device fabrication tools, which can be used holistically to enhance the manufacturability, reliability and as a result cost of devices. We are supported by a consortium of UK industrial partners, which have the capability to translate the research into commercial impact. Therefore, in terms of impact, our primary aim is to maximise opportunities for the UK to develop and grow its scientific and industrial leadership and deploy transformative manufacturing platform technologies into a new generation of smart flexible cQD displays and lighting systems. The UK electronic industry employs more than 800,000 people and contributes to more than 5% of GDP. Also UK photonics counts 1500 companies employing another 70,000 people with £10.5bn output and 8% CAGR. Crucially, the scope of this project encompasses the broader integration challenges of electronics, photonics, materials and manufacturing process. Recent market analysis forecast that cQDs will enable a market for devices and components worth over $11bn by 2026. The demand for cQDs will grow from less than 100 kg today to several tons over the next decade. The UK plays a key role in advancing the fundamental research fields of materials and device manufacturing process and tools and is a key contributor to the supply chain with cQD materials, Know-how and IP. Specifically, the UK leads in the field of cQD materials and related IP generation serving the global markets of lighting, displays, solar cell, optical sensors, and healthcare, based on cQD technologies, with access to a SAM in excess of $8.65bn worldwide by 2022. The Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, in partnership, will play a pivotal role driving innovation through the merging field of smart flexible lighting and possible expansion to displays.
Although competition is fierce, the global marketplace is huge with much space for regional and application based customisation within the context of smart lighting. The emerging smart lighting market presents an opportunity worth at least £1bn/pa globally since 2020. This is especially relevant for SMEs and start-ups which can use the technology for lighting design within the creative industries. A whole new market around creative lighting is poised to emerge once QD based smart lighting becomes available. The UK, with its lead role in the creative and service industries, is well placed to become a global leader in these new markets based around smart lighting. To support relationships with industry we will engage with Cambridge Knowledge Transfer Facilitators, as well as with both Cambridge Enterprise and Isis Innovation. Activities might include regional research symposia and the development of a series of 'Industry Briefing' notes disseminated both as press releases and directly to the companies identified through market research. We will work closely with our UK industrial partners; both those we have currently identified and those we intend to recruit as the project unfolds, and establish links to other government.
Consumers will ultimately benefit from improvements to manufacturing underpinned by this innovative science. Understanding how this science positively benefits their lives is important if ground-breaking science of this kind is to be valued and supported in the future. The academic team will be responsible for distilling the key messages of the project into 'lay terms' accessible to the public. This will form the backbone of all communications with the public whether online, through print, at events or in presentations. Communicating these core messages will be the responsibility of all members of the consortium.
 
Description 1) Design and assembly of new apparatus for various QD material fabrication and functionalisation with continuous-flow methodology.
2) Design and assembly of new monolayer transfer printing technology with high precision of pixel patterning and alignment.
3) Design and fabrication of TFT backplane and smart QD lighting system with various semiconducting and emissive materials.
4) Implementation of new computational modelling for ultra high-resolution QD image processing and crystal structure simulations.
Exploitation Route These new findings will be introduced to our 12 industrial partners for potential commercialisation (e.g. EAB meeting)
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL http://www.eng.cam.ac.uk/profiles/jmk71
 
Description Colloidal Quantum Dots (cQD) have emerged from lab curiosities to a multi-billion-dollar component market enabled by these optoelectronic materials. According to major analysts the global quantum dots (QD) based products market will be potentially valued at more than $35 billion by 2030, with the High Definition TV displays dominating the end user segment. It is one of the most relevant success stories of nanotechnology, where bottom-up design of nanoscale materials influences and determines the success of macro-scale device applications across multiple sectors. Since their synthesis, QDs have featured in a range of optoelectronic devices, including TVs and displays, light-emitting devices (LEDs), solar cells, photodiodes, thermoelectrics, photoconductors and field-effect transistors, while QD solutions have been used in a number of in vivo and in vitro sensing and labelling techniques for medical imaging. Cd-free cQD materials have been also demonstrated by major suppliers of QDs such as Nanoco (UK), Nanosys, QD Vision (US), and Merck (Germany), who are among major producers in bulk, of Cd-free cQDs for back light application in LCD displays. Besides Samsung, other device manufacturers and system integrators such as LG and Sony have also demonstrated cQD back-lit units for LCD displays. In 2018, Sales on Samsung's QLED displays (2.687 million sets) were reported exceeding than sales of LG's WOLED display (2.514 million sets) in large area, according to IHS Annual Report. This could be simple evidence of the rapid growth of QD based applications such as displays and lighting areas in the near future. In SmartQD we design and develop new environmentally friendly non-toxic cQD scalable materials, and advance their manufacturing processes with continuous flow and device fabrication tools toward next generation smart lighting applications. We expect that cQD LED may complement or replace current technologies for Smart lighting thanks to their unique characteristics of: i) high colour purity with narrow emission (absorption) bandwidths, ii) colour tunability/band gap engineering through size control, iii) high photostability and lifetime. Design and prototype development of cost-effective cQD LED lighting devices that can be manufactured on flexible substrates and controlled through unique metal oxide based active matrix driver to implement smart aesthetic features are being produced and may be showcased to maximise impact. The design and fabrication of pixel structure with mixed mode of colours are being implemented to create human friendly white lighting emission and will make new manufacturing opportunity of smart QD lighting system, process equipment and related supporting device areas. The manufacturing technologies investigated in SmartQD are expected to create additional markets for cQD based companies in the materials, film component, process and equipment, and lighting device market sectors. In SmartQD we have created a unique team that strengthen core capabilities of Research Associates and PhD students involved in the project. This might help develop careers for future business creation in UK, with highly skilled and trained workforce for UK companies active in the area of cQD technologies and applications. In terms of broader impact we have recently engaged with organisations that provide policy dissemination (Open Access Government) and prepared a 2-page profile for distilling the key messages of the project into 'lay terms' accessible to the public.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Chemicals,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Contribution to Open Access Government April publication with 2 pages on SmartQD profile following the EU Commissioner for Science editorial
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL http://www.openaccessgovernment.org
 
Description SWIFT: Smart Wearable Intelligent Fibre-based Technology
Amount £101,140 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P02534X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 06/2019
 
Title New materials and manufacturing methods 
Description New quantum dot-based materials have been developed that can be deposited by transfer printing methods to make improved devices. The transfer printing method and equipment and process has been optimised for that. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact N.A. 
 
Title Algorithms for electron microscopy image reconstructions and crystal structure simulations 
Description We have been developing in-house Matlab scripts to carry out electron microscopy image reconstructions and crystal structure simulations using exit-wave reconstruction approaches which are coupled to density functional theory (DFT) calculations. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact These new image processing and structure simulation approaches have been primarily applied to quantum dot synthesis and optoelectronic device fabrication to provide theoretical and structural guidance. 
 
Title Algorithms for structure searching and sampling 
Description We have been developing in-house python scripts to carry out structure searching and sampling using stochastic approaches which are coupled to density functional theory (DFT) calculations. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The generation of model structures of bulk, slab and nanocrystals from complex materials. 
 
Title Database of quantum dot materials 
Description Database of DFT calculations on bulk, slab and quantum dot models of materials containing Cu, Zn, In, S. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The database is used to explore the impact of structure and bonding to the optoelectronic properties of complex quantum dot materials. It can be used to optimize the material properties of quantum dots for different applications and devices. 
 
Description Industrial Partner: Cambridge Display Technology Ltd 
Organisation Cambridge Display Technology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduction of project objectives and technology to the Industrial partner
Collaborator Contribution The industrial partner has offered to the project team in-kind contribution in terms of: a) use of their measurement expertise including various sized integrating spheres to accurately determine the QD lighting performance; b) a CDT member at senior scientist or above level to give advice and attend project review meetings on a quarterly basis c) other support options as requested on a case by case basis
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Industrial partner: Aixtron Ltd 
Organisation Aixtron Limited
Country Unknown 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduction of project objectives and technology to the Industrial partner
Collaborator Contribution Industrial partner offers the project team the use of their state-of-the-art automated material deposition systems ranging from 2-inch all the way up to 300mm scale. These systems are maintained to the highest performance standards and are offered for project use, up to 10 days per year, worth up to £100K GBP in kind per annum. Aixtron systems could be used to produce the graphene which could be used as the flexible transparent electrodes in your lighting devices.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Industry partner: DuPont Teijin Films (UK) Limited 
Organisation DuPont Teijin Films
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduced the project objectives and technologies to the partner.
Collaborator Contribution The industry partner has offered in-kind support in terms of: expert advice on which films to use in the programme, supply films to the group (a combination of both commercially available films or new films currently under development) and participation in meetings where appropriate.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Industry partner: Dyson 
Organisation Dyson
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduced the project objectives and technologies to the partner.
Collaborator Contribution The industry partner has offered in-kind support in terms of: (a) participation in the Advisory Board, (b) guidance towards useful industrial outputs (e.g. through roadmapping exercises), (c) contributions from an embedded Dyson researcher at Cambridge.
Impact n.a.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Industry partner: Emberion 
Organisation Emberion
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduced the project objectives and technologies to the partner.
Collaborator Contribution Emberion limited provides in-kind contribution by fabricating graphene based optical detectors functionalized with quantum dot materials from the project. Emberion will further characterize the optoelectrical response of these GFET photodetectors to assess the performance and stability of these materials in photodetector applications. It is envisaged that these devices will expand the range of potential applications for the new materials being developed, by creating state of the art photodetectors with high responsivity, initially in the visible range, then moving to the near IR and long wavelength IR as materials become available. Detailed measurements of the photo-response as a function of wavelength, and optical power, along with time resolved measurements, are performed by Emberion personnel and used to benchmark the photodetectors against existing devices.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Industry partner: Flexenable 
Organisation FlexEnable Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduced the project objectives and technologies to the partner.
Collaborator Contribution Flexenable has offered in-kind contribution including: (i) Its backplanes to drive the Quantum Dot cells; (ii) Its Organic LCD (OLCD) module to integrate with the flexible QD smart lighting as a backlight and FE will provide its expertise to evaluate the whole OLCD module; (iii) a Research Engineer who will closely follow the progress of this project and will provide technical inputs from an end user point of view.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Industry partner: Merck 
Organisation Merck
Department Merck R&D UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduced the project objectives and technologies to the partner
Collaborator Contribution Merck KGaA has developed a large portfolio of quantum materials which have properties that are suitable for different applications. Merck has been involved in the research and development of quantum materials since 2008. During the project Merck has confirmed its willingness to support and accompany the development with a variety of state of the art materials as in-kind contribution.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Industry partner: Nanoco 
Organisation Nanoco
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduced the project objectives and technologies to the partner
Collaborator Contribution Nanoco Technologies Ltd has offered support for this project. Subject to the signing of an appropriate IP agreement by all partners, they will join the External Advisory Board and will supply quantum dot samples to an agreed value over the course of the project
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Industry partner: Samsung 
Organisation Samsung
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduced the project objectives and technologies to the partner
Collaborator Contribution Samsung has been making major breakthroughs in Quantum Dot research to spearhead development of highly brighter, ultra high colour purity with colour tunability, easy processing, and its applications to future large area displays, lighting devices and its future applications such as image sensors and detectors. In 2015, Samsung demonstrated the Quantum dot displays in the market with name of Samsung SHUD or Quantum Dot Display. In 2001, Samsung started this quantum dot displays with photo luminescence (PL) and electro luminescence(EL) display and published the first 46 inch Quantum dot displays with PL mode, and this was successfully launched in the market in early 2015. In 2015 they published the first EL monochrome QD display. Samsung technology partnering activities have recognised Cambridge and Oxford experts to be amongst some of the world's highest ranking teams for quantum dots, not only in fundamental materials research but also in the aspects of scaling-up/ mass-production of its materials.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description IndustrySupport: OSRAM Opto Semiconductors GmbH 
Organisation Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Presented the project and introduce the technology to the partner
Collaborator Contribution OSRAM Opto Semiconductors GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of the OSRAM GmbH, has more than 30 years of expertise in research, development and production of optical semiconductor components. The major activities are focused on visible and infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and power lasers, based on the material systems InAlGaP, InAlGaN and InAlGaAs. OSRAM Opto Semiconductors has full in-house production capabilities, consisting of facilities for epitaxy, chip processing and device packaging. OSRAM Opto considers the work with quantum dots as an important technological field, especially the development with Cadmium-free quantum dots. The planned processes, i.e. a nano transfer printing process plays an important role in future technologies. They confirmed interest in a collaboration seeking to develop the quantum dot evaluation and the evaluation of the printing process. As technology leader in several optoelectronic markets and application areas even beyond visible light, the activities planned in SmartQD are of interest to Osram Opto Semiconductors. OSRAM Opto Semiconductors GmbH has therefore offered supporting the project by providing time and expertise of Osram Opto Semiconductors scientists partnering on the project, and contributing with their technological expertise, evaluation technique, and suggestions for the exploitation of the project results.
Impact N.A.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Research Partner: Centre for Process Innovation 
Organisation Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Introduced the project objectives and technologies to the partner
Collaborator Contribution The research partner has offered in-kind support in terms of: a) attendance to project meetings, to provide technical inputs particularly in the area of scale-up b) assisting with the dissemination of the project results c) discussing opportunities for larger collaborative research and development projects d) participation to the project External Advisory Board e) sharing details of technology strategy f) access to partner's equipment and facilities g) promotion to the partner's industrial partner and networks
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Title Process for the synthesis of semiconductor nanocrystals 
Description The invention relates to a process for the synthesis of semiconductor nanocrystals, comprising mixing a nonaqueous solution of a metal precursor with a solid-state chalcogen and reacting the resulting mixture at a temperature of about 90 °C or greater. In another aspect the invention relates to the use of a solid chalcogen in the heterogeneous synthesis of metal chalcogenide semiconductor nanocrystals. Semiconductor nanocrystals obtainable by the processes of the invention are further provided. In particular, nanocrystalline PbS or PbSe having a band gap of greater than 1.6 eV and/or a photoluminescence emission wavelength of about 440 to about 515 nm, and nanocrystalline ZnS or ZnSe having a photoluminescence emission wavelength of about 410 to about 430 nm, and solar cells comprising such nanocrystals, are provided. 
IP Reference WO2018020240 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2017
Licensed No
Impact New syntheis apparatus has been designed and more than two peer-reviewed papers have been published.
 
Title Heterogeneous continue flow synthesis system 
Description A heterogeneous continue flow synthesis system combines heterogeneous reaction with continue flow methodology to provide a new QD synthesis approaches with easy composition and size alternation. 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact QD synthesis yield could be largely increased and different types of materials could be used in this new technology. 
URL https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2018020240A1/en