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McDaniel Briefs Kiwanis On His New Business

on February 18, 2016 - 12:06pm
Hunter McDaniel recently briefed Kiwanis on his new company in Los Alamos, UbiQD, which produces cadmium-free quantum dots. Photo by Don Casperson
Hunter McDaniel briefed Kiwanis recently on his new company, UbiQD, located in the large greenhouse-style building near the food co-op at the entrance to Los Alamos.
McDaniel, a former employee of Los Alamos National Laboratory, grew up in Texas. His father was in the oil business, he said, and as a result, his family moved a lot. He graduated from high school in Bangkok, Thailand. Subsequently, he graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara with degrees in physics and mechanical engineering and then earned a doctorate from the University of Illinois in materials science.
In simple terms, his company is “building tiny particles for use in semiconductor science,” he said. Putting it another way, the company’s website says that UbiQD “manufactures semiconductor nanocrystals” or “quantum dots.”
It is possible to tune the optical properties of these particles to produce “a whole spectrum of colors,” McDaniel said.
There are many potential applications of UbiQD’s work—especially since, as the website also notes, the particles it produces “do not contain heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.” The website adds that UbiQD’s materials “are fully compliant with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive and are widely applicable for consumer products.”
Quantum dots are already in the marketplace, but the particles being used contain cadmium, which is toxic and highly controlled. McDaniel’s company “is getting rid of cadmium.” It is using other materials with similar optical properties that are low-toxic and non-carcinogenic. He said the company is also making its quantum dots quickly, and producing them at about a third of the price charged by manufacturers using cadmium.
His product can be used in such things as solar cells, detectors, and light-emitting diodes.
It can, for example, replace the cadmium quantum dots now used in television sets, he said, and do the same work “much more efficiently” while producing colors that are “more vibrant.” He said his products can also be used in smart phones. He noted that they can be used in sports clothing or bike reflectors that glow brightly to keep people safe; in such things as bank notes and pharmaceuticals that need a “unique optical signature” for authentication; and for a wide variety of design purposes. His particles can also be imbedded in windows in such a way that they have the potential to absorb light and generate electricity.
He held up two containers—one emitting an intense red color, and one glowing bright green—to show off his work.
At present, he has two fulltime employees and is about to hire a third, but he said he expects to have a fourth employee by the end of the year, and if all goes well, he could have eight to 10 next year.