EXCLUSIVE: Cd-based QD tech should stay legal until truly non-toxic solution found, says UbiQD President

EU parliamentHunter McDaniel, President of quantum dot company UbiQD, has broken cover on the legalisation of cadmium-based quantum dot tech in the EU, saying that the Europe should allow “cadmium-based QDs in displays and lighting until a truly non-toxic solution” can be found.

Speaking exclusively with New Materials News, McDaniel explained that companies manufacturing cadmium-free quantum dots are, at present, using indium phosphide (IrP) as an alternative. But studies conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Sciences have already concluded that indium phosphide is also carcinogenic.

He went on to say that IrP was both more hazardous and costly to manufacture than cadmium-based materials.

The debate was recently sparked by news that the EU parliament would be considering delegated legislation that would allow the use of cadmium in TV screens until June 2018.

Nanoco Group plc, which manufactures cadmium-free quantum dots, recently kick-started a concerted campaign against the legislation. Michael Edelman, CEO of Nanoco Group plc, warned that the use of cadmium in displays risks posing a substantial danger to human health. He also claimed that the legislation had appeared on the agenda only after a heavy lobbying exercise by a number of high-profile electronics manufacturers.

McDaniel called for quantum dot manufacturers to work together to find a truly non-toxic solution, and warned against in-fighting over whose material was less toxic.

Dr. Hunter McDaniel, President of UbiQD, said: “The QD industry has a toxicity problem but the problem isn’t just cadmium. Those companies using cadmium-free quantum dots are developing indium phosphide as an alternative. Unfortunately, indium phosphide is a known carcinogen and is not only more hazardous to manufacture than cadmium-based materials, but also more expensive.

“UbiQD’s materials have no known toxicity, however, like indium phosphide QDs, the copper indium sulfide dots that we produce are not at the level of performance of cadmium selenide yet. Those cadmium-free displays aren’t actually more energy efficient than traditional LCDs. The displays with cadmium-based quantum dots are about 20 per cent more energy efficient, as far as I know. This is one reason why UbiQD is not targeting the display market today.

“So although indium phoshide is cadmium free, it’s also toxic, more expensive, and doesn’t perform nearly as well on efficiency and color quality as cadmium selenide. UbiQD’s materials are believed to be non-toxic (more studies needed) but further development is required to match the performance of Cd-based materials.”

McDaniel added: “The industry should work together to advance QD applications as a whole, rather than fighting over whose material is less toxic. Therefore, I think that the European commission should allow for cadmium-based QDs in displays and lighting until a truly non-toxic solution can meet the level of performance of cadmium-based materials in these applications.”

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