The quantum revolution is here.
From consumer electronics to industrial spectroscopy, electronics manufacturers are recognising the value of INFIQ® quantum dot (QD) technology for imaging and sensing applications. Capable of detecting everything from visible to short-wave infrared (SWIR) light, INFIQ® QDs are the solution that makes high-performance SWIR sensing a reality.
Mass market technologies like smartphones, vehicles, health trackers and augmented reality devices can all benefit from the easily accessible SWIR sensing capability that INFIQ® QDs provide. However, until recently, QD use has not been prevalent in consumer technologies. This is because the best performing and most mature SWIR absorbing nanoparticles for sensing were formulated using heavy metals like lead sulfide or mercury – the adverse health effects of which are well known.
But this is about to change. Quantum Science has overcome the challenges of creating lead-free QDs that can match the performance of heavy metal-based alternatives, by synthesising new solutions with sufficiently narrow size and shape distribution in the SWIR range. Our lead-free INFIQ® QD ink system enables the production of high quality colloidal QD films, with QDs tuneable to absorption wavelengths from 800nm to 1500nm. This means they run the range from near infrared (NIR) to SWIR light – a region of particular interest for fields such as consumer electronics in facial recognition and 3D sensing, surveillance and telecommunications, and industrial automation.
Such long wavelengths from lead-free materials are unheard of in the field and represent state-of-the-art performance for SWIR sensing. Combined with their comparative safety over heavy metal-containing alternatives, INFIQ® lead-free QDs should not just make SWIR sensing more accessible, they could vastly expand the range of applications that QDs are suitable for.
For example, consider the benefits of high-performance, non-toxic SWIR sensing in smartphone development. Current smartphone sensors rely on NIR technology, but shifting to SWIR detectionmakes revolutionary improvement and new applications possible.
Using SWIR sensors, it will be possible to integrate phone front 3D sensors under a smartphone’s OLED display, removing the need for a front-facing Face ID module and allowing for complete screen coverage on the device.This is possible because SWIR can limit the power delivery in the device, improve thermal management, and reduce scattering leading to enhanced optical performance.
SWIR capability also offers increased detection range for rear depth sensing, meaning it will be possible to produce even more detailed smartphone cameras, or add enhanced augmented reality tools.
Speaking of augmented and virtual reality, SWIR detection improves the range and reliability of existing sensors, improving the functionality and potentially allowing for new features like eye tracking.
Other applications for INFIQ® QDs include in the health and fitness sector. While existing smart watches can monitor heart rate and step counts, with integrated SWIR sensing, these devices will be able to detect substances in your sweat and skin to monitor your health. This spectroscopy breakthrough also benefits the world of industry; SWIR sensing makes it possible to detect specific spectral signatures to better sort products from food to plastic. It can ‘see’ through sealed containers to monitor fill levels or check for contact quality in semiconductor component fabrications. In these cases, there is no functional alternative other than SWIR.
SWIR sensors can also benefit the automotive industry. With LiDAR technology key to further autonomous vehicle development, SWIR sensing offers improved detection compared to NIR, as well as improved robustness to environmental conditions. SWIR sensors are also capable of detecting humidity, or hazards on the road like ice, offering earlier warnings to drivers.
Because SWIR light can penetrate deeper into tissue than other wavelengths, and causes less damage than X-rays, INFIQ® QDs will also have applications for the medical sector; for example, helping doctors detect hidden subdermal conditions. What is more, cancer and certain other diseases have specific SWIR spectral signatures, which these sensors can detect, allowing for earlier diagnosis.
Consumer imaging industry leaders are already working on integrating SWIR technology into household devices. It won’t be long before we see results from this work – potentially as early as this year. With safer alternatives to lead-based QDs becoming a reality, we are approaching a new dawn in what nanotechnology can achieve while minimising its harm to the environment.
For more information about Quantum Science Ltd and its INFIQ® QD technology, please visit www.quantumscis.com.