Infographic on the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots. Quantum dots are nanoparticles of semiconducting materials. Their very small size gives them properties that differ from those of larger particles of the same material.

In 1981, Alexei Ekimov produced glass tinted with copper chloride. He controlled the size of the copper chloride nanoparticles that formed in the glass and noticed that particle size affected the colour of the glass, with smaller particles absorbing more blue light.

In 1983, Louis Brus created solutions of cadmium sulfide nanoparticles, and noticed that the properties of freshly made and older solutions differed. He also discovered that the smaller the nanoparticles, the bluer the light they absorbed.

In 1993, Moungi Bawendi grew nanocrystals of cadmium selenide of a specific size in a solvent which produced smooth and even particles. This effective method for producing quantum dots paved the way for their use in wider applications.

QLED televisions use quantum dots to enhance the colours displayed on screen. They are also used in some LED lamps. Future applications could include flexible electronics, tiny sensors, and thinner solar cells.
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The 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots.

To read about the science behind the prize in more detail, check out the Nobel Prize press release here, the popular science background here, or the more detailed scientific background here.

Note: The diagrams in the middle of the graphic originally showed the particle sizes the wrong way around. This has now been corrected in the image and in the PDF download.

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