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Shoei Chemical buys Nanosys quantum dot business

12 Sep 2023

Change in ownership follows sale of Nanosys' microLED fabrication facility to Avicena last year.

Nanosys, the developer of quantum dot (QD) materials for LCD TVs and other displays, has become part of Japan’s Shoei Chemical.

In a deal agreed with Shoei’s North American subsidiary for an undisclosed sum, the “definitive asset purchase agreement” became effective September 6. Nanosys’ sales and marketing teams, QD research and development team, and its laboratories are now part of Shoei.

Founded back in 1956, Shoei fabricates a vast range of pastes and powders, typically used in electronics devices and components - with the Nanosys QD business seen as a major growth opportunity for the Japanese firm.

Nanosys’ proprietary QDs - tiny nanocrystals that can be used to control and enhance the color output of a display - are already widely deployed in consumer electronics.

Until recently the Silicon Valley company had also owned a gallium nitride (GaN) microLED manufacturing facility, before that was sold to the optical interconnect startup Avicena in October 2022.

‘Unparalleled innovations’
Shoei says that it intends to maintain the Nanosys brand, and that the combination of its extensive manufacturing capabilities with Nanosys' QDs is expected to bring about a new era of “growth and advancements” in the technology.

The two firms have been working together over the past four years, with Shoei’s president Shuichiro Asada observing:

“This acquisition represents a pivotal moment in our journey to accelerate growth and deliver greater value to our customers. We are confident that the synergy between our companies will drive unparalleled innovations in the quantum dot materials market.”

Martin Devenney, who became Nanosys CEO earlier this year, added: “In Shoei Chemical, we have found a partner who not only shares the same values as Nanosys but also has the necessary scale to successfully drive this business to the next level for the benefit of our customers and employees.

“Retaining our brand identity while benefiting from Shoei's manufacturing capabilities has proven to be a winning formula for our customers and the industry. Together, we will continue to lead the way in delivering cutting-edge quantum dot materials.”

Top-tier customers
Formed just over two decades ago, Nanosys has partnered with blue-chip firms including 3M, Samsung, and Hitachi on the development and eventual adoption of QDs in TVs and other displays.

Back in 2016 Nanosys filed a lawsuit against its Massachusetts rival QD Vision, listing 13 different counts of patent infringement. At the time Jason Hartlove, Nanosys’ CEO prior to Devenney, said: "QD Vision is a poor imitator using technology stolen from Nanosys to produce cheap knock-offs.”

In 2019 Nanosys expanded the production capability of its Milpitas, California, QD fabrication facility to more than 50 tons per year, helping it meet anticipated future demand for cadmium-free QD displays in TVs, monitors, and tablets.

Then in 2020 the firm agreed an initial deal with Shoei, under which the Japanese firm became Nanosys’ exclusive manufacturing partner.

Nanosys then acquired Swedish LED maker Glo, including the microLED fab subsequently sold to Avicena, and raised tens of millions of dollars in equity financing.

Earlier this year the company marked the launch of the thousandth display product to feature QD technology since 2013, noting that its customer base included each of the ten leading global TV brands, as well as four of the top-five IT brands.

“Specific brands shipping end-user display products that utilize Nanosys’ quantum dot technologies include Samsung, LG, Sony, VIZIO, TCL, Hisense, Acer, ASUS, and Phillips,” it announced, with board member Bruce Berkoff hailing 2023 as “the year of the quantum dot”.

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