Interview with Jason Hartlove, CEO of Nanosys

Jason Hartlove is confirmed to present at the Quantum Dots Forum in March. Smithers Apex recently spoke with Jason to gain insights on the development of the Quantum Dots marketplace ahead of his March presentation. 

Smithers Apex: How did you become first involved with phosphors?

Jason Harlove: I began working with LEDs and products using LEDs (opto-couplers, fiber optic transceivers, through-air optical transceivers) when I joined Hewlett-Packard’s Optoelectronics Group in 1988. Through this work I became aware of phosphors and began working with them in different products. During my career with Hewlett-Packard and later Agilent Technologies (now Avago), I invented and developed many LED based technologies and products including motion encoders, RGB color sensors for the first RGB-LED backlit TVs, the first CMOS camera modules supporting LED flash and the optical mouse sensor technology, for which I won the Hewlett Award in 2004.

Smithers Apex: What is the greatest advancement you’ve seen in the industry?

Jason Harlove: There is no question that stability improvement has been the greatest advancement of QDs since October 2008 when I joined Nanosys. At that time, we did not have what we at the time called a “solid matrix” for Quantum Dots that would meet the efficiency, lifetime, temperature roll off and other performance required for commercial applications. The QDs themselves had very interesting properties already. We had done work on InP QDs in 2006 for the DOE which showed that high quantum yield could be achieved with Cd-free material. Others had already shown that these materials could be made into very interesting photonic and electro-photonic devices. But there was no productization of the technology because none of these devices would last more than a few hundred hours of continuous operation. This is an area that we invested heavily in from that point forward, in finding the mechanisms of failure, working on the organic-inorganic interfaces and on the organic materials to overcome these lifetime limitations. As a result, we have seen tremendous industry growth with over 30 consumer product SKUs using  Quantum Dots in 2015.

Smithers Apex: In your opinion what are some of the obstacles facing the application of quantum dots?

Jason Hartlove: As we look at the regulatory environment, there is a range of data and a number of opinions on the toxicity of CdSe Quantum Dots. As for non-CdSe Quantum Dots, the performance gap remains large, both with regard to the CdSe QDs, but also with regard to emerging phosphor technologies such as KFS. So while CdSe QDs have a clear benefit to device makers and consumers in terms of efficiency and user experience, the question of toxicity remains, and as long as it does, so will the question of product safety and the regulatory environment. Furthermore, while the environmental questions thus far have focus on the device composition, such as whether a QD contains Cd or In, and whether or not the presence of these elements represents a health risk, larger questions around the safety of these “nano-particles” continue to remain unanswered. Proper study followed by conclusions and if needed actions are needed to insure both consumer safety and to regulatory security. As an industry, we can and must work together to address the concerns of QD toxicity and the mis-information in the marketplace.  

Smithers Apex: What are you looking forward to hearing at the Quantum Dots Forum?

Jason Hartlove: One of the great things about the expanded, three-day agenda this year is the breadth of topics being covered. There are market updates from different industry analysts, some talks that are very useful today, that we know our customers are thinking about like 3M’s talk on achieving rec.2020 and I think it’s fascinating to hear how the industry is progressing towards future applications like emissive or solar.

Smithers Apex: Why should attendees register to hear your presentation?

Jason Hartlove: Nanosys is the world’s leading Quantum Dot manufacturer, and we are unique in the industry as not only the highest volume manufacturer but also the only company with commercial product revenue from both traditional and non-Cadmium based QD technology.  This gives us a different perspective on many of the hottest topics from manufacturing scale-up to regulatory questions and cost.