Report: Apple stops development of quantum dot image sensors


Last week, shares of Nanoco Technology, a UK company specializing in quantum dot (QD) technology, dropped by nearly 80 percent after news broke that a high-volume supply-contract had been canceled by a major customer.

UK newspaper The Telegraph now reports this customer is Apple which has been working with Nanoco on the development of QD technology for image sensors that could have been used in future iPhone generations. According to market research firm BlueFin Research, Apple decided to stop the development of QD image sensors because it was too expensive for mass production.

Nanoco first announced a partnership with a ‘large, undisclosed U.S. listed corporation’ in 2018. In January of this year it announced the contract had been expanded to cover stress testing and refinements. According to the report, the contract had a volume of £17.1 million ($21.7 million) which is more than half of Nanoco's total revenue.

The UK company specializes in cadmium-free QDs, which are currently predominantly used to improve image quality on TVs and other high-resolution large screens where the dots' light-emitting properties allow for more accurate color rendering. In an image sensor Apple and Nanoco were hoping to apply the technology to enhance image quality and help with the development of advanced augmented reality features.

With QD technology off the table, it remains to be seen if Apple's iPhone cameras will rely on more conventional technologies for the foreseeable future or if the US company has another innovative image sensor card up its sleeve.

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