Quantum Dot Explained

Updated December 31, 9999

When you hear Quantum Dot, it may be easy to write it off as a something only seen in sci-fi films. Sure, the latest Samsung SUHD TVs are tapping the power of deep physics to provide our most colorful and energy-efficient televisions, but what exactly is a quantum dot and what does it do? In case you don't have your own electron microscope, here's a peek inside the inner workings of these strange and nearly magical particles.

How Small Is a Quantum Dot?

Quantum dots are extremely small nano-sized particles. There are billions of these things inside a Samsung 4K SUHD TV screen. The largest quantum dots are 7 nanometers wide, while the smallest are a mere 2 nanometers wide. To give you some idea of how tiny they are, 2 nanometers is the same as 2 billionths of a meter, or 1/5,000th the thickness of a human hair, or 30 atoms wide.

Take your pick. It all means the same thing: quantum dots are so extremely small that you can't see them with the naked eye.

What Do Quantum Dots Do?

What makes quantum dots really interesting is that they are photo-active—meaning if you shine a light on them, they absorb it like a sponge. Then they turn around and use the energy from that light to make their own light. The light each quantum dot emits, however, is always a specific, pure color, based on its size. The smallest quantum dots emit blue light, for example, while the larger ones emit red light.

How Do Quantum Dots Save Energy?

As any stage performer can tell you, bright lights emit a lot of heat. While traditional LCD panels have been remarkably effective, they do cast off heat as well. In fact, the brighter the scene is, the more power the TV consumes and the warmer the screen gets. This means there has always been a limit to how bright a TV can be without turning your family room into the equivalent of a sauna.

Because quantum dots absorb light as well as emit light, they can display scenes with a brightness you've never seen before, while staying cooler and using less energy.

How Do Colors Create More Colors?

If you've ever worked with watercolors, you know that, if you put a yellow too close to a blue, you get green between them. This is essentially what happens with traditional TVs and prevents you from experiencing a full richness in colors. The color in each subpixel would get watered down by the adjacent colors.

Quantum dots don't have this handicap. The colors they emit are so pure that they're hardly affected by adjacent colors. Through bright scenes and dark scenes, Samsung SUHD TVs show you more colors than ever before.

Just how many colors? How does one billion sound to you? That's 64 times as many colors as a typical TV.

Photo Credits: Samsung

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