Inks Enabling Energy-Efficient Displays

NanoPattern Technologies, Inc. is commercializing a Quantum Dot ink that is sold to display makers to enable the manufacturing of energy-efficient tricolor micro displays for virtual reality and augmented reality devices.


Critical need for this Technology

Micro displays with 2 – 5 micron pixel sizes are important for near-to-eye devices such as Augment Reality and Virtual Reality headsets, however many of the current displays are still monochrome. To access the consumer and industry applications, micro display makers are experiencing extreme market pressures to convert their monochrome display into a tricolor display. However, this is not a simple task with micron scale pixels.

Currently, micro display manufacturers (the customer) separately produce red, green, and blue sub-pixels and attempt to install them without a single error over millions of pixels to create one tricolor display. As can be expected, making a tricolored micro display not only effectively triples the total number of steps compared to a monochrome display but also triples the processing cost as well as reducing yield.

Defect minimization is significant because unlike larger displays (i.e. TVs and monitors) with near 1 mm x 1mm pixels, addressing a single 10 micron x 10 micron pixel is next to impossible. Because of the widespread interest in using micro displays for AR/VR not only by consumers but also by healthcare, military, and automotive industries, micro display manufacturers need a method to convert their single-color micro displays into full red, green, and blue tricolor displays without a complete redesign.

Supplemental need for this Technology

Displays are everywhere – PEW research reports that 96 percent of Americans now own cellphones and 75 percent of Americans own desktop or laptop computers, however, displays are still inefficient. NanoPattern will begin with micro displays, then expand into larger displays to reduce power consumption of all display formats.

Potential CO2 Reduction

Reducing the power consumption of the screens in phones, tablets, televisions, computer monitors, and notebook computers results in a reduction of GHG emissions from electricity generation. Currently, liquid crystal display (LCD) technology is commonly used with either a fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) backlight. Emerging technologies such as micro-LEDs and quantum dot emissive materials have the potential to significantly increase the energy efficiency of displays.

Generating the electricity that is used to produce generation in consumer electronic displays causes approximately 130 MtCO2e of emissions each year. Using NanoPattern Technologies’ materials would reduce these emissions by approximately 66% relative to currently used materials.


  • Inkjet printing – the ink droplet size and the serial deposition mechanic prevents resolutions below 50 um for each sub pixel.
  • Quantum Dots in photo resin – due to the high concentration of non-absorbing organic additives, a 30 um thick film is needed to fully convert all blue backlight into red or green. Five um pixels would result in excessively narrow downconverters that would collapse.
  • Pick-and-place methods, a single Oculus “Quest” VR headset microLED display consists of 2.3M pixels. With current pick-and-place speeds, a single display would take 130 hours to make.

Potential Markets

In the micro display industry, Micro Light Emitting Diode (microLED) displays are emerging as a potential solution for augmented reality and virtual reality devices due to their superior energy efficiency and brightness. In contrast to the rest of the display industry (TV, Tablets, smartphones), the microLED display manufactures are medium sized institutions that are willing to negotiate joint development agreements with shorter timelines. Many of the microLED display companies have established “Quantum Dot downconverter discovery leads” within their companies signaling an explicit need for a tri-color display solution like the one offered by NanoPattern. After NanoPattern addresses ink volume demands from middle size manufacturers, the ink can be expanded to the Liquid Crystal Displays and Organic LED displays that address the large TV, Tablet, Smartphone, and wearables markets.

Value Proposition:  NanoPattern has developed an ink that enables patterning of Quantum Dot films with 1) 2 micron resolution, 2) full color conversion of blue backlight with only 5 micron thicknesses, 3) improved performance at high temperatures, 4) plug-and-play capabilities with photolithography equipment, and 5) is fully Cadmium-free enabling sales in the US and European markets.

Key Innovation

NanoPattern has developed a patented ligand technology that enables high packing density of functional nanoparticles.

Richard Schaller, Argonne Primary Scientist

Richard Schaller is the principal investigator working with NanoPattern Technologies on the project. He  is a Research Scientist, Physics Leader 1 at Argonne National Laboratory, whose current research focuses on optical experimental investigations of the electronic structure of quantum confined semiconductor materials, excitonic energy relaxation and dissipation, exciton fine structure,
generation and fate of multiple electron hole pairs, and charge manipulation.

R&D Status of Product

NanoPattern has addressed two of the three key risks associated with the technology and is projected to have a fully de-risked technology by the end of Q3 2020.

Team Overview

Yu Kambe, PhD. – CEO and Co-founder

PhD in Molecular Engineering from the University of Chicago; 7+ cumulative years of experience in formulation and materials industries; B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University.

Dmitri Talapin, PhD. – Co-founder

Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago; 20+ years of cumulative experience in Quantum Dot industry.

Forrest Etheridge, PhD. – Senior Scientist

PhD. in Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University; 7+ years of inorganic and organic synthesis experience.

Technology Profile

Status: R&D

Primary industry: microLED displays for AR/VR
Category: Quantum Dots, Down Converters, micro displays, AR, VR

Estimated annual revenue: Pre revenue
Employs: NA
Social challenge: Reducing energy consumption of digital interfaces
R&D commercial collaborator: NA

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