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Quantum Dot

semiconductors with extraordinary properties and many potential uses North West,

Different coloured glass jars stand in a row. They are each labelled 'Nanoco'
Heavy-metal-free quantum dots tuned between ultraviolet and infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. Courtesy of Nanoco Industries Ltd.

Quantum dots are tiny particles of a semiconductor material (usually based on cadmium or zinc) ranging from 2 to 10 nanometres (about 50 atoms) across. Owing to their size they have very different properties compared with larger pieces of the same material, as predicted by quantum theory. 

Sometimes referred to as artificial atoms, quantum dots could find a wide range of uses. They can be ‘tuned’ to release photons - light particles - of different colours from infrared or ultraviolet wavelengths, or even to release them one photon at a time. They have unusual electronic and optical properties too. 

Founded by scientists from Manchester University, Nanoco Technologies Ltd is one of a few companies worldwide that can produce relatively large quantities of quantum dots and to not use regulated heavy metals. Technologies developed by these companies demonstrate the range of practical applications for quantum dots in, for example, clothing dyes and ultra-thin television screens. They are also being studied as agents for medical imaging and for the next generation of computers, which could rely on quantum computing. 

Science Museum

Decade
Type
Physics, Chemistry,
Region
North West
Location
Manchester
Key Individuals
Nanoco Technologies Ltd,