As a graduate student at MIT, Seth Coe-Sullivan created a possible way to make amazingly bright and colorful displays using quantum dots, tiny semiconductor crystals that emit specific colors of light when energized. Researchers had made light-emitting devices out of quantum dots before, but Coe-Sullivan improved their efficiency by developing a technique that produces a uniform, ultrathin layer of the dots between two flat electrodes. He then cofounded QD Vision in Watertown, MA, with the goal of arranging quantum dots into pixels to create full-color, flat-panel displays for cell phones, laptops, and televisions.
As chief technology officer, Coe-Sullivan has already led the fabrication of small monochromatic displays as well as the development of a process that will lead to full-color versions. These screens will produce brighter images and more saturated colors than conventional displays–while reducing both component cost and power consumption by half. They could appear in cell phones by 2009.