UK-based quantum dot (QD) materials manufacturer called ‘Nanoco Technologies’ is currently going through a procedure of selling its shares. As Nanoco Technologies has been put on the market followed by QD Vision, it is expected that there will be a wait-and-see approach between South Korea and China that are trying to grab the upper hand of the QD market.
According to the industry, Nanoco Technologies recently found a sponsoring company to sell its shares and is currently feeling out intensions of major QD companies in South Korea and China about purchasing its shares.
Evercore, which was responsible for selling the shares of QD Vision, will oversee the process of selling Nanoco Technologies’ shares. NH Investment & Securities will be in charge of looking for buyers of the shares of Nanoco Technologies in South Korea. It has started feeling out intensions of major companies in South Korea first about acquiring Nanoco Technologies.
Nanoco Technologies is in possession of cadmium-free QD technology that requires higher degree of technology than cadmium QD. Along with QD Vision and Nanosys, it is seen as one of the top QD material manufacturers in the world. However, Nanoco Technologies and Nanosys are the only ones left after Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology acquired IPs of QD Vision for $70 million in 2016.
Expectations on the growth of the QD materials market have grown as Samsung Electronics has put out QLED TVs, which apply a sheet of QD film on a LCD panel, on the market. However, companies that manufacture relevant materials have faced difficulties as Chinese TV manufacturers have not been able to sell many QLED TVs unexpectedly. Although many companies such as SK had conducted a due diligence to acquire Nanosys, every attempt fell apart.
Reason why possible acquisition of Nanoco Technologies is drawing many interests from the market is because Nanoco Technologies is in possession of next-generation image sensor technology using QD in addition to QD technology for displays.
Nanoco Technologies has newly secured QD technology that can be applied to next-generation image sensors and it has been working with Apple to commercialize its new QD technology. Apple believes that the quality of images can be improved by applying QD to an image sensor since QD is a technology that can improve quality by improving color reproduction ability of a display.
QD can also have a significant impact on upgrading AR (Augmented Reality) functions. If QD is applied to an IR sensor, an object can be detected even without light.

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<Nanoco Technologies’ quantum dot materials (Source: Nanoco Technologies)>

Apple invested $21.9 million (26 billion KRW) into Nanoco Technologies last year to support Nanaco with development and production of next-generation QD image sensors. However, Apple ultimately decided not to use QD image sensor for its iPhones due to design issue and others.
Despite Apple’s decision, Nanco has been preparing to commercialize QD image sensor with companies that have been working with Nanoco on relevant projects. Nanoco is currently in possession of about 750 IPs on image sensor and QD for displays.
It is currently preparing to have discussions with multinational companies while keeping in mind of many various ways.
It is understood that three to four Chinese companies have already shown their intentions to acquire Nanoco. It is heard that a Chinese venture company called NN Crystal, which has shown its desire in QD technology by placing the highest bid on the acquisition of QD Vision, is also going to participate in the acquisition of Nanoco. NN Crystal is a venture company invested by Chinese Government to secure QD technology and it was established by a well-known Chinese scholar Professor Feng of Zhejiang University who has studied QD for more than 20 years. Besides NN Crystal, many other major Chinese display manufacturers are preparing to acquire Nanoco.
It has yet to be heard if any South Korean company will be participating in acquiring Nanoco. However, there is a possibility that companies from many different fields will try to acquire Nanoco considering the fact that QD can be applied to various fields such as image sensor and bio-related fields in addition to being a next-generation display material.
South Korea’s display industry is concerned about a possibility of a Chinese company acquiring Nanoco. China’s QD market is still centered on cadmium QD. Because cadmium-free QD requires a high degree of technology, it is only produced by very few multinational companies. Because a company can be in possession of cadmium-free QD technology as soon as it acquires Nanoco, it can rapidly close a technological gap.
It is concerning that NN Crystal is focusing on securing QD technology as it recently filed an action against Nanosys for infringement of patent.
“Because Nanoco has been working with various companies, there is a possibility of various disputes in the future if Nanoco is acquired by a Chinese capital.” said a representative for the industry.
Staff Reporter Bae, Okjin |