Company Background

Nanosys, Inc. was founded as an advanced architected materials company in 2001, and its headquarters remain in California (1a). The company focuses primarily on developing process-ready nanomaterials for use in liquid crystal displays (LCDs) as well as for lithium ion batteries (1a). Nanosys integrates their architected technologies with existing materials to develop solutions and systems that help their buyers manufacture their own products more quickly and with improved margins and energy performance (1a). As part of the company’s efforts to cultivate their interest in energy performance, Nanosys developed a separate solar division under the name QD Soleil in 2009 (5). QD Soleil is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, focused on employing Nanosys’ advanced nanotechnology in photovoltaic energy systems to advance the next generation technology of grid-ready energy supplies in the solar industry (5). The chief active nanoscale elements utilized by Nanosys include nanowires, carbon nanotubes (CNT), and quantum dots (3). Applications of these technologies include their use in flexible electronics, solar cells, memory, and surface coatings, which can benefit a range of industries including energy, defense, electronics, computing, and life sciences (3).

Nanosys has a manufacturing facility in Milpitas, CA. In October 2013, Nanosys announced the shipment of more than 2000kg of their Quantum Dot Concentrate™, used to make Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF™) from the facility (1b).

Position in the Nanotechnology Value Chain

Nanosys serves as a manufacturer of nanomaterials and nanointermediates and is positioned within both the electronics and materials industries. At the input level, the company manufactures high efficiency quantum dot phosphors (1a). The quantum dot technology is then employed to compose Nanosys’ innovative Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (“QDEF”) for use in light-emitting diode (LED) backlight units. The “QDEF” products feature Nanosys’ proprietary QuantumRail™ devices, which deliver process-ready components that improve the backlight display’s color gamut and efficiency (1a). Nanosys also produces compound nanoparticles for the manufacturing of ion lithium batteries. These compounds feature the “Nanosys SiNANOde” additive, an enhancing supplement constructed from silicon composites that strengthens the capacity of the lithium ion batteries (1a). In late 2013, Nanosys sold the assets related to this technology to a newly-formed company called OneD Material (12).

Suppliers and Buyers

Buyers of Nanosys’ quantum dot technologies mainly use the quantum phosphors in the development of consumer electronic products. This includes electronics component companies who use phosphors in backlight displays as well as energy storage manufacturers who produce lithium ion batteries (1a). Companies can license Nanosys’ patent portfolio for a range of applications including solid-state lighting, electronics, energy storage, and medical devices (3).

In 2007, Nanosys agreed to allow Sharp Corporation to use their quantum phosphor technology in the production of fuel cells in portable consumer electronics (3).

In 2009, Nanosys entered a license agreement with QMDx to allow use of Nanosys’ nanowire technology in biosensor production (3; 6). Nanosys also announced a cross-licensing agreement with Life Technologies in 2009 to share rights to an intellectual property estate related to fluorescent nanocrystals (also known as quantum dots) to develop new products to help prevent counterfeiting worldwide (3; 7).

A definitive commercial agreement was established in 2010 between Nanosys and LG Innotek, an electronics component manufacturer, to grant them use of Nanosys’ quantum dots in their high color gamut displays (3; 8). Also in 2010, Sigma-Aldrich Corporation agreed to distribute Nanosys’ silicon nanowires to the global research community to generate further technological applications (3).

In 2012 Nanosys and the Optical Systems Division of 3M Company announced they were working together to commercialize Nanosys’ Quantum Dot Enhancement Film™ (“QDEF”) technology. QDEF is a drop-in film that LCD manufacturers can integrate with existing production processes (9). In May 2013, 3M was in the final stages of scale-up for its new 3M™ Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF). The new film allows up to 50 percent more color than current levels in liquid crystal display (LCD) devices and will make devices such as smart phones, tablets and televisions, lighter, brighter and more energy efficient. A quantum dot can be tuned to emit light at very precise wavelengths. This means display makers can create a highly-optimized backlight that only produces the exact wavelengths of red, green and blue light needed by an LCD for optimal color and energy performance. Trillions of these quantum dots protected by barrier film fit inside an LCD backlight unit. The new film replaces one already found inside LCD backlights, which means the manufacturing process requires no new equipment or process changes for the LCD manufacturer (11).

The company has also settled agreements with Panasonic Electric Works, Ltd, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SEMATECH), among others, granting them the rights to employ Nanosys’ quantum dot technology to aid their own developments (2).

Strategic Partnerships

Nanosys maintains a collection of strategic alliances with firms within the consumer electronics industry and beyond. The company has established a partnership with Samsung Electronics Corporation, who provides Nanosys with funding for research on commercial applications of nano-enabled components within the electronics and solar markets (3). Nanosys also collaborates with numerous agencies of the United States Government, and the Department of Energy provided the company with $11 million in funding to spur the commercialization of nanomaterials within the automotive market and to aid the clean energy movement (2). Additionally, Nanosys established a partnership with Harvard University in 2009, combining their extensive intellectual property with Harvard’s portfolio of nanowire-based biosensor and memory-related patents (3).

Independent strategic-investment firm In-Q-Tel has also agreed to support funding Nanosys’ research on applications in both government and commercial markets (3). Nanostart AG expanded its presence in the US market by investing in Nanosys in 2006 (10).

For more information, see the Nanosys location page.


  1. Nanosys, Inc. (2012). Retrieved on March 8, 2012
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    2. “Nanosys announces 2000kg quantum dot production milestone for high performance consumer displays” (2013, October 1). Retrieved on October 30, 2013 from
  2. Hoover's Inc. (2012). "Nanosys, Inc. Company Overview". Retrieved via Duke Library March 8, 2012
  3. OneSource (2012). "Nanosys, Inc. Company Report." Retrieved via Duke Library March 8, 2012
  4. AZoNano (2012). "Nanosys, Inc." Retrieved March 8, 2012 from
  5. QD Soleil (2009). Retrieved on March 8, 2012 from
  6. Nanosys, Inc. (2009, May 11). "Nanosys licenses nanowire technology to QuantuMDx Group for next generation diagnostic and sequencing technologies." Retrieved on October 15, 2013 from
  7. Nanosys, Inc. (2009, March 23). "Life Technologies and Nanosys Introduce Anti-Counterfeiting Solutions." Retrieved on October 15, 2013 from
  8. Engadget (2010, January 21). "Nanosys Completes Commercial Agreement with LGIT for its Quantum Rail™ Lighting Products." Retrieved on October 15, 2013 from
  9. Nanosys, Inc. (2012, June 6). "Nanosys and 3M to Bring Amazing Color to Consumer Electronic Displays." Retrieved on October 15, 2013 from
  10. Nanotechnology Now (2006, January 9). “Nanostart AG invests in Nanosys, Inc.” Retrieved on October 30, 2013 from
  11. Engadget (2013, May 22). “3M, Nanosys ready to bring quantum dot film to LCD makers.” Retrieved on October 30, 2013 from
  12. OneD Material. (2014, January 1). Retrieved on July 2, 2015 from