Luminescent quantum dots for bright and flexible flat screen displays

Polymeric materials from thiol-yne chemistry, with quantum dot nanoparticles incorporated, produce transparent, luminescent displays with tailorable mechanical, optical, and thermal properties

Photonics Materials Electronics

Seemingly everywhere we turn there are visual displays – mobile phones, flat screen televisions, touch screen car panels, and now refrigerator interfaces are vying for our attention. With this ubiquity comes a competitive search for materials that can impart various characteristics such as flexibility, stretchability, durability, scratch resistance, transparency, and shatterproof qualities, and consequently to the device they are used in. Market leadership for companies depends on this ongoing march towards improvements.

Besides those product differentiators mentioned above, there has also been a desire to find materials that have enhanced color characteristics in order to provide displays with brighter and more realistic visual output. To this point, polymers fabricated via thiol-yne chemistry can provide a route toward such multifunctional materials, while luminescent quantum dot (QD) nanoparticles can impart improved color properties. But to date, there have been no reports of combining polymers made using thiol-yne chemistry with QDs that would allow for their use in visual displays.

Now, scientists at the Naval Research Lab have developed hybrid polymeric materials, made using thiol-yne chemistry, with QD nanoparticles incorporated to produce transparent, luminescent materials with tailorable mechanical, optical, and thermal properties. These materials may be used as screens in device displays, and as materials used in additive manufacturing.

Core to this technology is the synthesis of novel ligands used to functionalize the QDs. From there, they are incorporated in a thiol-yne prepolymer matrix and cured (UV or thermal) to produce luminescent QD thiol-yne nanocomposites. (See image.)

Polymers made from thiol-yne chemistry as the host material for QDs. The use of thiol-yne chemistry instead of other similar chemistries is important because thiol-yne chemistry has been shown, by comparison, to have improved mechanical and thermal properties while maintaining high-quality optical properties.  in addition to providing financially cheap processing, unlike many other polymer chemistries, thiol-yne chemistry does not suffer from oxygen inhibition. Specifically utilizing polymers made from thiol-yne chemistry imparts characteristics (high strength, flexibility, high refractive index) that are unique and possibly inaccessible using other polymer chemistries. The study of thiol-yne chemistry in the modern technology era is relatively new (less than 10 years), and due to the success of several other materials that have been established for decades (silica glass, sapphire glass, polyurethanes, polycarbonates), the potential for the use of polymers made from thiol-yne chemistry in technological applications has largely gone unnoticed.

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