Sony might have made news for being the first TV manufacturer with a 4K OLED TV at CES last week, but that wasn’t the only first the company was celebrating. Its new Triluminos displays are the first consumer devices (let alone TVs) to make use of quantum dots — a semiconductor technology that uses "tuned" nanocrystals so small that they exhibit quantum properties, emitting light only at predetermined wavelengths. The resulting displays reportedly see as much as a 50 percent increase in color gamut, or the range of colors that the screens can reproduce.
An uncoated LED inside a thin glass tube packed with red and green quantum dots
Ordinary LED-backlit LCD TVs use a blue LED surrounded with a phosphor coating to produce white light that is then passed through red, green, and blue filters to produce the multicolored dots on your screen. The problem is that the filters don’t do a great job of stopping light from nearby wavelengths from shining through — red filters let some orange light slip by, for example. According to Nature, Sony’s approach uses an uncoated LED inside a thin glass tube packed with red and green quantum dots supplied by Massachussetts company QD Vision. When the dots get blasted with electricity, they only emit light at their characteristic wavelengths, which, combined with the blue light from the LED, form a white light that’s more intense at those three points. The resulting mix is easier to filter, letting more vibrant colors show through. It's hard to know how much the new TVs' improved gamut will affect your viewing experience until we see some actual tests, but in the meantime, just think how great it will feel to tell people your new set has quantum… something.