A quantum dot is a semiconductor whose excitons are confined in all three spatial dimensions. As a result, they have properties that are between those of bulk semiconductors and those of discrete molecules. They were discovered by Louis E. Brus, who was then at Bell Labs. The term "Quantum Dot" was coined by Mark Reed.
Researchers have studied quantum dots in transistors, solar cells, LEDs, and diode lasers. They have also investigated quantum dots as agents for medical imaging and hope to use them as qubits.
In layman's terms, quantum dots are semiconductors whose conducting characteristics are closely related to the size and shape of the individual crystal. Generally, the smaller the size of the crystal, the larger the band gap, the greater the difference in energy between the highest valence band and the lowest conduction band becomes, therefore more energy is needed to excite the dot, and concurrently, more energy is released when the crystal returns to its resting state. For example, in fluorescent dye applications, this equates to higher frequencies of light emitted after excitation of the dot as the crystal size grows smaller, resulting in a color shift from red to blue in the light emitted. The main advantages in using quantum dots is that because of the high level of control possible over the size of the crystals produced, it is possible to have very precise control over the conductive properties of the material.
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