Quantum dot creators awarded 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Mike Wheatley

The creators of quantum dots, the nanoparticles that are a key ingredient in the most advanced consumer TV and monitor displays available today, have had their achievements recognized by winning this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


Quantum dots are found in the very best LCD and OLED displays on the market today, and their discovery has caught the attention of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which hands out the Nobel Prize for Chemistry on an annual basis.

The technology was initially developed as a supplement that can enhance LCD displays, but more recently it has become the foundation for QD-OLED displays, which are among the best OLED displays available. With quantum dots, blue light is converted into red and green colours by filtering it through tiny nanoparticles that measure just a few nanometres across (around a millionth of a millimetre).

But the Nobel Prize recognized that quantum dots have applications that go far beyond display technology, as they can be used in solar panels, LED lamps and even in surgical settings, helping to identify cancerous tumor tissue removal.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences bestowed the 2023 Nobel Prize for Chemistry on the three scientists who were pivotal in its development. They include Alexei Ekimov, who first paved the way for quantum dots when he succeeded in creating size-dependent quantum effects in coloured glass back in the 1980s. His research was instrumental, because while physicists had long known that size-dependent quantum effects were possible to recreate in nanoparticles, it had always been impossible to create particles in such tiny nano-proportions.

Ekimov’s work laid the foundations for Louis Brus, who was able to prove size-dependent quantum effects using particles floating within a fluid. Then along came Moungi Bawendi, who in 1993 created what were the first, almost perfectly sized nanoparticles. In doing so, it finally became possible to use quantum dots for real world applications, and it was soon realised that displays were one of the most appropriate use cases for the technology.

The three scientists will share the Nobel Prize for Chemistry along with the 11 million Swedish Kronor prize money.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences hailed the discovery of quantum dots and said we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface regarding the benefits they can provide to humankind. “Researchers believe that in the future they could contribute to flexible electronics, tiny sensors, thinner solar cells and encrypted quantum communication – so we have just started exploring the potential of these tiny particles," it said.

Nanosys, world’s leading supplier of materials that are used to make quantum dots, recently announced its roadmap that aims to accelerate the technology’s development. It’s research is now focused on something called “NanoLED”, also known by other names such as EL-QD and QD-LED, which is expected to lead to the development of superior displays in the coming years.