They are very tiny, their dimensions can be measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. Indeed, they are about to revolutionize industrial sectors as varied as television, energy or medical diagnostics. Quantum dots, also known in French as”quantum boxes” or more briefly QD, were discovered about thirty years ago. They have since been the subject of more and more research, as their potential is revealed step by step.
What is a quantum dot exactly ?
Quantum dots (QDs), or quantum boxes, are very small solid material structures with remarkable properties, mainly due to their small size. Their dimensions are measured in nanometers, that is, billionths of a meter, and they contain a small number of atoms, in the order of one hundred to one hundred thousand.
As a matter of fact, QDs can have a more or less complex structure. The simplest are just nanocrystals, i. e. a regular assembly of atoms arranged in a specific geometric pattern. Like ordinary crystals, but of extremely small dimensions. The most studied materials are semiconductors, in particular cadmium-based compounds such as cadmium selenide.
Applications of the quantum dot
Quantum dots are suitable for a wide range of applications. Among the most clearly identified are the production of flat screens, lighting devices, photovoltaic panels, batteries and supercapacitors, lasers and all kinds of electronic devices. Finally, qds will be the source of new fluorescence imaging techniques and many other advances in medicine and biology.
Capable of emitting at the desired wavelength, simply by controlling their size, QDs thus offer in principle a simple solution to manufacture by additive synthesis any type of white light suitable for lighting our interiors or public places. More and more international groups decide to work along with a company specialized in conception of custom quantum dots in order to create products more promising and powerful than ever.
Better efficiency at lower cost is what quantum dots promise in many fields such as the photovoltaic solar panels. They should also find their place in the field of electrical energy storage, and many other things can be added to the list of quantum dots applications. New lasers have already been developed. New light sensors, based on QDs, should also find multiple uses and quantum dots hold great promise for medicine. Their fluorescence properties quickly identified them as potential biomarkers but they have since been found other uses including in the field of therapeutics.