This move comes as the Japanese company aims to reduce its dependence on major rare metal producers such as those in China. Canon plans to commercialise the technology within a few years, paving the way for securing stable production without being affected by geopolitical risks.
The new material uses quantum dots (QD), tiny semiconductor particles with a diameter of 1 nanometer. When irradiated with light or injected with an electric current, the particles emit vivid colors.
Other quantum dots are already used for high-end OLED televisions. Samsung Electronics mass-produces quantum dots, but it uses the compound indium phosphide. Indium is a rare metal produced in extremely small quantities, with China being the major source.
Canon's new material uses lead, which is easily procured from recycled raw materials in "urban mines." Canon aims to commercialise the material in the mid-2020s by establishing technology for mass production. Canon uses lead in some of its compounds as a substitute for indium.
Lead usually leads to results that are less durable than with indium, but by using its expertise in compounding materials such as toner and ink for office equipment, the company has devised a compound that is as durable as indium.