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What is QD-OLED? The next-gen TV display explained


As TV manufacturers look past traditional LCD displays, new display technology is emerging. One option is QD Display, also referred to as QD-OLED.

OLED and QLED have established themselves as familiar names in homes worldwide, but as those technologies become cheaper, there’s been a move to bringing in newer technology to fill the gap. Last year saw Mini LED and Micro LED make more of an impact, but 2022 will see QD-OLED/QD Display debut in the TV market.

So, what is new technology that looks to shake up the TV market?

What are Quantum Dot TVs?

To explain what QD-OLED is, it’s worth revisiting what Quantum Dot and OLED are.

Quantum Dot displays are more advanced versions of LCD TVs. They use nano-sized particles to absorb and emit light – when light is passed through these particles, different sizes produce different wavelengths (i.e.. colours).

Quantum Dots are known for their purity so they can display colours more accurately, and their light efficiency allows for greater brightness, which is especially useful for HDR content.

What’s more Quantum Dots are very stable. That means the stability of image quality is maintained over a longer period than, say, OLED TVs, which degrade over time.

What are OLED TVs?

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Each pixel is self-emissive, and that means it can produce its own light. This produces high levels of contrast as a pixel that’s ‘on’ can sit next to a pixel that’s ‘off’.

This also helps OLED TVs to deliver deep black levels, something that’s trickier for LCD TVs to achieve given the they employ a backlight panel that can ‘leak’ light through to the screen. OLED TVs currently don’t go as bright as LCD TVs with Quantum dots, though, and with static images there is the potential for images to be retained in the screen, more commonly known as image retention and burn-in.

What is a QD-OLED TV?

So, what does all that mean for a QD-OLED hybrid display? It would be an emissive display – much like OLED – with pixels emitting their own light, and that in turn would help produce deep black levels, high contrast and wide viewing angles.

Then there’s a QD Layer – a Quantum Dot filter – which much like it does in a QLED TV, intends to help create more accurate and wider range of colours., as well as retention of colour saturation at wider angles that’s said to be better than current king OLED can do, as QD-OLED can emit light in all directions.

In Samsung’s analysis of the technology, they were looking to hit 1000 nits of brightness, with a higher contrast ratio (1,000,000:1) to aid its attempt to create ‘perfect blacks’ for a more detailed and convincing image. Details from CES would suggest that those markers have been met, but Samsung is staying relatively schtum about it, Sony is parading its QD-OLED to the world.

How does QD-OLED work?

A TV display creates three different colours of light: red, green, and blue. How these colours are combined creates the image on screen.

credit: Samsung Display

A TV with Quantum Dots such as a Samsung QLED beams blue light into a Quantum Dot filter to create red and green light. When this blue light source is combined with the red and green light, it creates a white light made up of saturated red, green and blue to cast an image on screen.

OLED displays produced by LG Display use blue and yellow OLED materials to produce a white light passed through a colour filter to create red, green and blue pixels to make the images you see on screen.

breakdown of QD Display
credit: Samsung

A QD-OLED or QD Display, as Samsung now refers to them uses a blue self-luminescent layer to shine blue light onto the quantum dot filter. The filter would take some of the blue light and convert it into red and green, and the combination of this red, green and blue light creates the image.

Another reason why it uses blue light for this process is that it has the strongest ‘light energy’ and so can achieve a “relatively bright luminance”. The use of relatively sounds like bets are being hedged, but recent figures indicate that a QD Display can reach a peak brightness of 1500 nits (on a HDR window of 3%).

As a QD display requires fewer layers it could be cheaper to fabricate than OLED, and the display would be thin and light, too, compared to LCD TVs that require a backlight.

How much would a QD-OLED TV cost?

Previously we sat on the fence as whether a QD Display would happen any time soon, but after Samsung Display detailed the technology in greater detail in the middle of 2021, it appeared to be more of a reality than ever before. At CESS 2022, we got our first glimpse of the TV in Sony’s A95K Master Series QD-OLED.

Prototype of a QD Display
Prototype of a QD Display – Samsung Display

In 2019, Samsung Display invested $10.9bn into production facilities to manufacture large panels at its production facility in Asan City. One detail to note is that fabrication (as in manufacturing) of QD-OLED is currently only possible in 55-, and 65-inch sizes for the time being.

With the high cost of investment and the fact that these are first-gen panels of a new technology. QD-OLED TV has been conceived of as a premium piece of TV technology much like OLED was in its early days, and the expectation is that these TVs won’t be as expensive as an 8K TV, but more expensive than current OLEDs.

When will they go on sale? We suspect a late spring/early summer release date.

Who’s else is making a QD-OLED TV?

Sony announced their A95K Master Series OLED at CES 2022, and it’ll be interesting to see how it differs from Samsung’s eventual display as Sony has added a heatsink (to manage distribute of heat and aid brightness) as well as integration of its Triluminos XR technology

TCL has confirmed it’s making its own QD-OLED TV or what it’s calling a H-QLED. This would employ an inkjet printing method that could be more efficient and cost effective than other methods.


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