Quantum dots can be ‘tuned’ to release photons of light at a given frequency.

2000s: Quantum Dots

On the last day of the Great British Innovation Vote – a quest to find the greatest British innovations – we pick one innovation which could shape our future: Quantum dots

Quantum dots, tiny nanometre-sized particles, have some rather unique properties that we are only just starting to explore. “This particular innovation is so exciting partly because we’ve yet to see what exciting new developments it’ll lead to,” explains Professor Jim Al-Khalili.  “Quantum dots are going to change the world. Everything from new types of smart materials, solar cells, medical imaging, to potentially building a quantum computer.”

Quantum dots can be ‘tuned’ to release photons of light at a given frequency.

Quantum dots can be ‘tuned’ to release photons of light at a given frequency. Image credit: Nanoco Industries Ltd.

Made of cadmium or zinc-based semiconducting materials, it is the small size of the dot (made up of about 50 atoms, just a few nanometres across) that leads to unusual quantum behaviours. Quantum dots have a range of practical applications including in clothing dyes, flat-screen displays and medical imaging.

Click here to vote for Quantum dots as the British innovation most likely to shape our future.

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