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Will Quantum Dots Dominate Displays?

At Display Week 2014, high-efficiency quantum dots sharpen colors

4 min read
Will Quantum Dots Dominate Displays?
Dotty Displays: The Kindle Fire HDX is one of the first consumer devices to use displays with quantum dots.
Photo: Amazon

Rumpelstiltskin had the admirable ability to convert low-cost straw into valuable gold. Today, display manufacturers are starting to reap the benefits of their own photonic alchemy, converting the light from cheap sources into the precise wavelengths needed for more efficient displays that can show sharper colors.

This magic is accomplished using what are known as quantum dots. These are semiconductor nanocrystals that exhibit a range of unusual electrical and optical properties, but for decades they were largely confined to research laboratories. Now, quantum dots are being used in mass-produced displays for the consumer market, including such items as Sony flat-screen televisions and’s Kindle Fire HDX e-reader. And the field is still rapidly growing and evolving. At the Display Week 2014 conference of the Society for Information Display this past June in San Diego, quantum dots were a hot topic, both in the exhibit hall and in presented papers; the symposium schedule included three separate sessions dedicated to the subject.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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