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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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A Technology Redefining the Future | Dr. Hao Pang

Dr. Hao Pang

Founder & CEO

Dr. Hao Pang, founder, and CEO of Quantum Science has worked in quantum dots (QDs) since graduating with a Ph.D. in materials chemistry in 2009. His first role in this field was as a research scientist, where he helped develop QD inks. During this time, he was also studying part-time for an MBA, after which he realised there was an untapped value in these materials that he spent hours in the lab daily.

Using the knowledge he gained from talking to customers and from business school, Hao put together a strategy to develop and commercialise QD inks. He subsequently began building a supply chain for his developed materials, intending to integrate them into optical components. He later led the entire product launch and secured a multi-million-dollar licensing deal.

At the same time, it was becoming increasingly clear that the display market was growing more aggregated with relatively low barriers to entry. Noticing the success QDs had shown in disrupting the global display market, Hao saw that Apple was investing in QDs for near-infrared purposes and found a significant opportunity for QDs in imaging and sensing applications rather than display.

Hao firmly believed that QDs’ potential lies in shortwave infrared (SWIR). Thanks to his experience, he had the skills to produce high-quality QD inks capable of SWIR sensitivity. Subsequently, he left his role and began talking with investors and industrial OEMs, founding Quantum Science one year later.

Quantum Science is a leading British materials innovation company focusing on developing and commercialising quantum dots (QDs), nanomaterials, and technologies for imaging and sensing markets. Quantum Science has a team of world-leading experts in QD synthesis and scaleup, nanocrystal and nanoparticle surface engineering, ink formulation, thin-film processing, and QD semiconductor device engineering.

The steadfast leader is a forward-thinking entrepreneur whose persistence and business acumen have driven him to the top of the semiconductors field. Highly knowledgeable in organic and quantum dot semiconductor materials, Hao’s skills and specialism based on 20 years of experience in the semiconductors materials sector have enabled him to build Quantum Science from the ground up, overseeing a successful team committed to the company’s vision. Hao is committed to ensuring the company’s core values are engrained in its day-to-day operations while helping develop the knowledge and skills of employees.

Revolutionary Solution for SWIR Industry

Quantum Science’s INFIQ® technology allows users to precisely tune the size or bandgap of quantum dots to absorb broadband light anywhere from the visible to the infrared range.

INFIQ® QDs are nanoscale semiconductors sensitive to different light wavelengths, including visible, near-infrared, shortwave infrared (SWIR), and even long-range. The wavelength that a QD is sensitive to depends on its size, which can be directly controlled during synthesis, tuning them to absorb and emit particular wavelengths.

Because these wavelengths are so specific, every INFIQ® QD essentially acts as a sensor that collects infrared data, which can be used in a near-limitless range of applications.

QDs are already used in things like TV displays, as they can be tuned to emit visible light. However, Quantum Science is focused on accessing SWIR wavelengths, as this area is fascinating to many emerging technologies, from virtual and augmented reality to medical science and industrial scanning.

Where INFIQ® QDs differ from other sensing technologies is in their blend of high performance and accessibility. The two other most prominent sensing technologies on the market are either not powerful enough to access light in the SWIR range consistently or are prohibitively large and expensive, often costing up to $10,000 per unit. Offering high-performance SWIR sensing at just a fraction of this, QDs represent a paradigm shift for the industry.

Moreover, in the QD market itself, INFIQ® technology stands apart. Most QD production processes are hindered by inefficient production. Up to 14 thin QD layers are sequentially deposited on a substrate, with chemical treatments and washing steps applied to each layer. This method suffers from poor control of nanoparticle synthesis, particle degradation, and instability, limiting batch-to-batch uniformity and preventing production at a large enough scale for mass commercialisation.

In contrast, Quantum Science is unique in its ability to formulate stable colloidal QD inks that enable QD coatings to be deposited in a single step, meaning image sensor manufacturers can deposit them in a single later. Not only is this less time and labor-intensive, but it also minimises material waste and the risk of defects. As a result, INFIQ® QDs offer market-leading performance and facilitate mass production of cutting-edge optoelectronic devices, helping to bring revolutionary sensing technology to market more quickly than ever.

Transformative Technology

INFIQ® QDs improve the quality and quantity of infrared data that can be accessed by imaging and sensing technology. With the growing demand for SWIR-sensitive materials across sectors, INFIQ® QDs are posed to revolutionise existing technologies and unlock exciting new features that previously seemed the stuff of science fiction.

Take smartphones, for example. SWIR will offer a higher panel transmission rate and avoid light on the screen when operating. The outcome of these features enables SWIR QD face ID to be fitted beneath a smartphone’s screen, integrating 3D sensors and Face ID capability under the OLED display allowing for complete edge-to-edge screen coverage without the need for a forward-facing camera ‘notch.’

In health and fitness, INFIQ®-equipped smartwatches can detect substances in your skin or sweat to monitor your well-being. Such devices could see beneath the skin for changes in melanin or haemoglobin levels or help people with diabetes check glucose levels by looking at their watch.

This ability for SWIR light to ‘see’ beneath the skin can have more specialist applications in medicine. Because SWIR light can penetrate deeper into tissue than other wavelengths and causes less damage than X-rays, QD-equipped sensors can help doctors detect hidden medical conditions. Cancer and certain other diseases also have specific SWIR spectral signatures, which these sensors can detect, enabling earlier and cheaper diagnosis.

“As the technology becomes more widespread, we expect to see many more new and exciting uses emerge, changing the lives of billions of people around the world,” says Hao.

Towards the Future

According to Hao, it is a fascinating time to be in the SWIR industry. Recent research has found the SWIR sector will explode in value from $300 million to $2.9 billion over the next five years. Growth in consumer markets will account for most of this, with SWIR-capable consumer electronics alone expected to be worth around $2 billion in 2028. The increasing interest from major consumer electronics companies will be vital to this growth.

In three years, SWIR imagers will start appearing in high-street technology like smartphones, with broader market penetration predicted shortly afterward.

QDs are best placed to power this revolution, and Quantum Science is preparing by upscaling its production capacity. Earlier this year, the business expanded into a second laboratory in the UK. It will serve as a production hub with sufficient output to supply millions of SWIR sensors each year.

Quantum Science is aware of the growing need for a QD product that does not contain restricted heavy metals such as lead. This will make the technology safer and better suited for an even more comprehensive array of applications. As a result, it has developed lead-free INFIQ® QDs, which will become commercially available within the next two to three years.

" As the technology becomes more widespread, we expect to see many more new and exciting uses emerge, changing the lives of billions of people around the world. "

Dr. Hao Pang

Founder & CEO

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