Exclusive Interview with Hunter McDaniel, Ph.D., of UbiQD

Ahead of the 2017 Quantum Dots Forum, Smithers Apex, sat down with Hunter McDaniel, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of UbiQD to gain exclusive insights on the major challenges and market opportunities for the quantum dots industry.

Q: How did you become first involved with quantum dots?

A: I began working on quantum dots at the advice of my PhD mentor, Prof. Moonsub Shim, when I was studying Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Q: What is the greatest advancement you've seen in the industry thus far? What really excites you about this and why?

A: The greatest achievement is the widespread availability of consumer products containing quantum dots. This widespread availability required innovation in lots of areas, but long-term photostability should be singled out.

Q: What are some of the obstacles facing the application of quantum dots?

A: Three major problems limit the deployment of new quantum dots products. The first problem is toxicity because of the carcinogenic properties of CdSe and InP. Cost is a factor because even at a large manufacturing scale quantum dots are expensive compared to other luminescent materials. The third and final major problem is stability. This is because the existing solutions like barrier films are too expensive or not physically feasible for most applications.

Q: Where is the biggest advancement in the quantum dots market?

A: The biggest market opportunity for quantum dots is in sunlight harvesting, much bigger than displays or lighting because it requires a huge amount of material.  Displays are a big and exciting market for quantum dots today, but they require a relatively small amount of material. A home might have a few TVs in it at the most, which each utilize about a gram of dots. That’s a few grams of dots per home. To power those displays and everything else in the home you might have solar cells covering the rooftop, and solar integrated into the windows. Then you are talking about hundreds of grams of quantum dots per home. So I think that the market for quantum dots in solar, both in terms of material amounts and sales are much bigger. To phrase it another way, the electricity requirements of modern civilization go far beyond displays. The beautiful thing about quantum dots is that we can use them to generate energy more effectively (solar), while also using that energy more efficiently (lighting and displays).

Q: Why should attends register to hear your presentation?

A: UbiQD is the closest quantum dot company to releasing solar products, by as early as next year. My talk will discuss our recent progress and plans. The solar product that we are developing is for windows is called a “luminescent solar concentrator”. Essentially its a quantum dot window tint that channels the sun’s energy through the window to a solar cell hidden in the frame. There are several markets for this technology, but ultimately we will to power the smart cities of the future with our products.

Hear more from Hunter on day three of the Quantum Dots Forum!