​Samsung QLED TV applied 'metal coating' to improve colour volume

Internally called the 'Q Project', Samsung achieved higher color volume, wider view angle, and deeper blacks for their QLED TVs by applying metal coating to the quantum dot nanocrystals, company insiders say.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer on

Samsung Electronics' 2017 premium QLED TV line-up, which will debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), has applied 'metal coating' to improve the integrity of the quantum dot (QD) materials, company insiders say, allowing colour in a wider range to be accurately represented at higher brightness level or better than those reached in OLED TVs.

Internally called the "Q Project," the business set a target resolution for 2017 and tested out the quantum dot materials in various ways.

The breakthrough was made by "metal coating" process, where metal is coated around the nanocrystals to form a shield to make them more stable and circular, and the same size, they said. Having the crystals circular and in the size is crucial to increasing colour accuracy. Insiders declined to comment on the metal used as it is a trade secret.

The TVs also accurately express High Dynamic Range (HDR) at peak brightness of 1500 nit, they said. There will be no trade-off between colour and brightness. Increasing the brightness tends to kill the colour volume, and vice-versa. The new models achieve a wide colour volume -- it covers all of DCI-P3 standard colour space -- even at 1500 nit, the company said. Compared to conventional WRGB displays' 67 percent, using quantum dot allowed Samsung to achieve 104 percent colour space of the standard, they added.

The TVs will be branded QLED, while the SUHD used for 2015 and 2016 models will be dropped. The new brand represents the quantum dot's importance, functions and advantage over rival technologies better, they said.

Samsung, the world's largest TV maker, introduced QD LCD as a premium line-up at CES 2015 and branded it as SUHD TV. Its compatriot and runner-up LG Electronics has been using OLED for its premium line-up of TVs. Sony is also planning to launch OLED TVs, using LG Display's panels.

Using QD materials has advantages over OLEDs: they are cheaper to make; QD process can be added to existing Liquid Crystal Display production lights; they have a longer lifespan; and they do not suffer "burn-in". While more accurately representing black, OLED's main problem has been high costs and long playing time resulting in images burnt in on to the screen.

OLED has the diode emitting light without the need for a backlight. Because of the name QLED, there was some speculation on whether Samsung had succeeded in making the crystals emit light in a similar fashion to OLEDs.

Samsung confirmed in a call with ZDNet that the quantum dots will not be self-emitting light. The new TVs, like its predecessors, likely have a QD film layer atop a LCD with LED as the backlight.

Company insiders said other TV manufacturers were showing strong interest in quantum dot and preparing TV models that use the technology. It expects, before and after CES, that more companies will join the "quantum dot camp". Samsung is willing to cooperate with these firms, they said, suggesting supplying quantum dot materials.

Chinese firms TCL and Hisense, the third and fourth largest TV vendors respectively, are also pushing to make quantum dot TVs.

Samsung is betting hard on quantum dot technology. It acquired QD Vision in November for $70 million.

Cadmium, which is hazardous to humans, was previously considered essential to make quantum dot nanocrystals, but the South Korean tech giant succeeded in making the crystals without them.

It is applying them on monitors as well, and will also unveil curved monitors that use the technology at CES.

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