How quantum dots could challenge OLED for best TV picture


We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Samsung’s QLED TV technology is not the same as LG’s OLED TV technology.

Sure they have similar names, down to the little slash that makes an “O” into a “Q,” but according to CNET’s tests for picture quality, OLED is superior. It’s also fundamentally different from the LCD-based TVs that comprise the vast majority of the market today. Samsung’s latest QLED TVs are still based on LCD, and while they have their strengths, they can’t compete with OLED.

The “Q” in QLED, however, could change the game a few years down the road. It stands for quantum dot, a microscopic particle that could have a big impact on TV image quality. Samsung and other TV makers are working on technologies beyond QLED that could finally ditch LCD, and potentially challenge the picture quality dominance of OLED.

No, I’m not talking about MicroLED. I’m talking about better uses for quantum dots. QLED is just the beginning of the quantum dot revolution, and it’s only going to get cooler. Here’s how.

A what?

Things have changed a bit since I discussed quantum dots in-depth before.

The short version is that a quantum dot is a ridiculously tiny molecule that has many special properties, but the one we’re most interested in is its ability to glow when supplied with energy. Depending on the dot’s size it glows at a specific wavelength of light. So one tiny dot might glow green, and a slightly larger dot might glow red.

The near future: Quantum dot color filters
While the current use of QD increases the color and efficiency of LCD TVs, there’s still an issue: the color filter. Right now quantum dots are essentially part of the LCD’s backlight. Which is to say, the QDs and the blue LEDs create “white” light, which is polarized, sent through the liquid crystal, and then through a color filter. All these steps, and several more I didn’t include, are required for you to see an image.