Quantum dots make light work of light
Quantum dots have served as a breakthrough solution for enhancing the colour accuracy in high-end TV sets such as Sony's Bravia. Recently, these materials have found their way in renewable energy applications, being explored to boost the output of solar cells. Wanting to have a hand in this action, Quantum Materials Corp. steps forward with its tetrapod-shaped quantum dots (TQDs) licensed from Rice University.
TQDs give even more accurate control over the colour and intensity of the light they emit, in the case of organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays, and absorb—in the case of solar cells. However, Quantum Materials has found that by adjusting the dimensions of the core and the four arms of the tetrapod, TQDs they can emit a unique signature of light frequencies, making them an uncrackable source of anti-counterfeiting materials for everything from currency to microchips to 3D-printed objects.
"The Tetrapod Quantum Dot offers many advantages for display and solar-cell manufactures, which is why we originally licensed their design from Rice University," David Doderer, VP of research and development at Quantum Materials, told EE Times.
But for our 3-D anti-counterfeiting applications we licensed the additive manufacturing quantum dot detection technology developed at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the Design, Research, and Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems... a laboratory at Virginia Tech. That will allow us to embed quantum dots within objects being 3-D printed to produce a unique, physically uncloneable signatures known only to the object's manufacturer.
CEO Steve Squires (left) and vice president of research and development, David Doderer at Quantum Materials. Source: Quantum Materials
Quantum dots for displays work by absorbing light in a relatively broad band, then emitting light in another narrower band depending to create colours when embedded in OLEDs that cannot be produced by LEDs themselves. TQDs offer many more dimensions of frequency shifting depending on the length, width, overall size, and other dimensions of both their core and their four arms, enabling custom designs for each application.
Since TQD light emission occurs over a range of frequencies and amplitudes, they are able to return a unique signature when pinged. The signature could be completely unique and known only to the manufacturer, used for adding secure serial numbers to manufactured goods, for example.
Quantum Materials licensed a method of embedding the tetrapod quantum dots inside 3D-printed items, but close enough to the surface that they can be pinged and have their signature read-out to identify genuine model numbers or genuine serial numbers. Quantum Materials also envisions novel uses of TQDs for encryption, secure key exchange, and tampering detection.
Quantum Materials, citing Allied Market Research, claims that the market for anti-counterfeit packaging alone is already over $57 billion and will grow at nearly a 14 per cent annual compound rate to $143 billion by 2020. According to Global Industry Analysts, the food and pharmaceutical industries are already on-board to the tune of $82 billion by 2015.
- R. Colin Johnson
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