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14 February 2008


Spire awarded patent for mass synthesis of uniform quantum dots

Spire Corp of Bedford, MA, USA, which provides turnkey production lines and capital equipment for manufacturing photovoltaic modules, cells and wafers, has been awarded US patent 7,306,963 ‘Precision Synthesis of Quantum Dot Nanostructures for Fluorescent and Optoelectronic Devices’ describing a method for achieving improved uniformity and size.

Nanometer-sized semiconductor quantum dots have the potential to create new higher-efficiency, low-cost solar cells and other optoelectronic devices including lasers, LEDs, and photodetectors, reckons Spire. Their small size also makes them useful for medical assays, diagnostic systems, and therapeutic compounds.

“The challenge has always been how to manufacture these small structures with the consistency needed to take advantage of their unique properties,” says chairman and CEO Roger G. Little. “Our scientists have conceived of a large-scale method that may allow the promise of this technology to be realized.”

The confinement of electrons in three-dimensional nanostructures enables the use of quantum dots to precisely control the optical properties of devices such as solar cells or biomarkers for detecting cancer.

“The technique we conceived for fabricating the quantum dots involves using compound semiconductor technology developed at Spire Semiconductor [in Hudson, NH], Spire Corporation’s solar cell manufacturing operation,” says Spire’s senior scientist Kurt J. Linden. “It involves the synthesis of free-standing nanoparticles by using a specially designed release layer that separates uniformly sized nanoparticles from gallium arsenide (GaAs) thin films that are grown in our existing GaAs wafer fabrication systems. Such techniques are expected to achieve large-scale volumes of active nanostructures with a highly consistent size. This consistency of size can provide a number of important scientific and commercial benefits,” he adds.

“This patent further strengthens our intellectual property portfolio in our solar and optoelectronic market areas,” says Little.

See related items:

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Nonlinear Fano effect tracks down weak quantum dot couplings

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