Reactor for Bulk Manufacturing of Core-Shell Quantum Dot Nanoparticles

Technology #14105

Enables Large-Scale Production of Precision Quantum Dots for Medical Imaging, LEDs and Solar Cells

This multi-variable reactor facilitates the manufacturing of high-precision, core-shell quantum dots - nanoparticles made from semiconductive materials that display unique optical and electrical properties. Quantum dots have applications in computing, photovoltaic devices (solar panels), light emitting diodes (LEDs) and medical imaging equipment. By modifying or “tuning” the precise size and quality of quantum dots, scientists can control the wavelength (bandgap) of light emitted by LEDs, and can select the properties for various other applications, such as fluorescence-based diagnostics and cell staining in medical imaging. Quantum dots are currently manufactured using batch methods, which under hydrothermal conditions, are time-consuming and subject to batch-to-batch variation in the desired properties. Detailed tuning of quantum dots to precise optical properties can be difficult using existing technology. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a hydrothermal reactor that offers high-precision tuning of quantum dots for bulk production. The reactor enhances reliability, precision, uniformity and throughput during large-scale quantum dot manufacturing, and could help capture a significant portion of the global quantum dots market, which is expected to reach $670 million by 2015.

Application

Multi-variable reactor for bulk manufacturing of high-precision core-shell quantum dots that are used in medical imaging equipment, LEDs and solar cells

Advantages

  • Rapidly synthesizes quantum dots without batch-to-batch variations, enhancing product quality
  • Has the ability to change quantum dot wavelengths “on-the-fly” within minutes, enhancing versatility
  • Allows for modification of several variables in production, providing control over quantum dot properties, including emission wavelength
  • Increases output while using less power, reducing energy consumption
  • Permits unattended continuous production using in-line feedback and process control, providing a competitive advantage over conventional manufacturing
  • Facilitates production scaling, enabling inexpensive, large-scale quantum-dot manufacturing

Technology

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a multi-variable reactor that enables large-scale production of precise core-shell quantum dots. The technology uses continuous flow manufacturing, hydrothermal conditions and process control with the ability to tune multiple variables. Control parameters (including reactant stoichiometry, concentration, flow rate, temperature, pressure, illumination, heterogenous nucleation, magnetic, electric and gravitational fields) make it possible to manufacture quantum dots that emit at specific wavelengths with peak emission wavelength selectable to within 0.5 nm. A core-shell comprised of cadmium sulfide (CdS) or other non-active materials can be applied as a final step during the flow manufacturing process. The CdS shell protects and preserves the quantum dot’s yield and, in some embodiments, decreases or eliminates toxicity when used in biological applications.