What to do when you have two promising technologies that are just not promising enough at the moment? One thing you can try to do is combining them to unlock their potential. That is what researchers at the University of Louisville in Kentucky have done with quantum dots and OLEDs, as reported by the Optical Society.
Organic LEDs, or OLEDS, are a special kind of LED made from polymers, which can be produced cheaply and are flexible. Quantum dots on the other hand are inorganic nanoscale, semiconductor crystals, which can also be produced cheaply. Both technologies can emit light at specific frequencies, but are not very efficient at the moment, so researchers have combined them to create hybrid OLEDs or quantum dot LEDS (QD-LEDs). This has the effect of increasing efficiency and the range of colors they can emit. To create the combined material, the researchers used inkjet printing to precisely spray the quantum dots on the OLEDs. While they are currently working on the scale of a single inch, the researchers state it should be possible to scale it up to 6 inches by 6 inches, or larger.
This combination of technologies could one day offer cheap and efficient light sources to consumers, but more research is required to better optimize the materials. When ready though, the lights will be useable in more places than current bulbs, as hybrid OLEDs can be applied to flexible surfaces.
Source: The Optical Society