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Cadmium-free nanostructures with excellent optical activity

Curtin researchers have developed a novel synthesis of zinc-based quantum nanoplatelets, which are free of cadmium or other toxic heavy metals. The synthesis is a simple one-pot process which occurs in atmospheric conditions and uses no highly toxic solvents.


Many ‘quantum dot’ or similar technologies for narrow-bandwidth light emission rely on the use of heavy metals such as cadmium. As a result, the current generation of high definition displays which is difficult to manage through the entire value chain from production to disposal. Other production methods rely on toxic organic solvents in their manufacturing process.

Curtin’s nanoplatelets can be used for a range of optical functions, utilising their capacity to emit or absorb narrow wavelengths of light. Key application areas include displays on consumer devices and electromagnetic sensors from the ultraviolet to infrared range.

Technology overview

The nanoparticles can be made from zinc sulphide, zinc selenide or zinc telluride. The particles take a highly uniform rectangular shape with a thickness of less than five nanometres, and controllable lateral dimensions in the order of 30 to 80 nm. Simple variations in the process parameters can be used to ‘tune’ the particle dimensions and hence the emissivity or absorption spectra.

The process takes place using a simple reaction vessel and our laboratory-stage demonstration can produce up to 20 grams of functional material in a single batch.

Cadmium-free nanostructures

Intellectual property

The process is protected by worldwide patent application PCT/AU2018/051304, “Zinc chalcogenide nanoplatelets”.


Curtin University is looking to commercially partner with a company that will bring this innovation to market. Potential partners would include materials or electronic component manufacturers.


Dr Tom Hammond
Business Development Manager
+61 8 9266 2548