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Greenhouse Technology Boosts Crop Yields Up To 20%

Greenhouse Technology Boosts Crop Yields Up To 20%

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

California-based Nanosys Inc. will apply its manufacturing capabilities to help Los Alamos startup UbiQD Inc. ramp up production of its quantum dot-based film for greenhouses.

Nanosys operates the world’s largest quantum dot factory in Silicon Valley, where it produces film coverings for the global display industry, such as ultra-high definition TVs.

Quantum dots, a cutting-edge technology at the heart of UbiQD’s film, offer unique properties that make them valuable in various applications. But what is quantum dot technology? Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor particles that exhibit quantum mechanical properties. In simpler terms, they are tiny, light-emitting particles with size-dependent optical and electronic properties. These properties make quantum dots ideal for applications ranging from electronics to medical imaging.

UbiQD, or Ubiquitous Quantum Dots, has developed a window film for greenhouses that accelerates plant growth and increases crop yields by bending sunshine to emit red light, which plants crave for optimal growth.

That’s a completely new application for quantum dots, which are tiny, three dimensional structures that manipulate light in unique ways. They’re currently used in everything from transistors and sunscreen to LCD televisions, tablets and smart phones.

Nanosys already dominates that industry. But now, through a new partnership announced May 20, the company will open its manufacturing operations to mass produce quantum dots for “UbiGro®,” the new greenhouse film that UbiQD began marketing in 2018, said UbiQD founder and CEO Hunter McDaniel.

“This partnership makes a lot of sense for both companies,” McDaniel told the Journal. “Nanosys is the global leader in quantum dot manufacturing for the display industry, and we’re a small, early-stage company with a new type of product. We can rapidly scale up by leveraging Nanosys’ production capability, while offering them new markets for quantum dots.”

Since Nanosys launched in 2001, the consumer electronics industry has used its quantum dots in some 20 million electronic devices, according to the company. But the greenhouse market offers an even larger outlet for the technology, with potential worldwide demand for about 50 billion square feet of UbiGro, said Nanosys CEO Jason Hartlove.

“Greenhouses represent a massive opportunity for the unique benefits of quantum dot technology,” Hartlove said in a statement. “We look forward to working with UbiQD to bring UbiGro to market with our industry-leading scale, cost-effectiveness and highest quality manufacturing standards.”

UbiQD launched in 2014 with a new, low-cost, nontoxic process for making quantum dots that it licensed from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company began by developing a quantum-dot-based window coating that captures sunlight and then channels the photons to photovoltaic cells on window frames, potentially turning everyday windows into solar electric generators.

But while exploring window coating generation for greenhouses, the company realized it could help growers improve plant productivity and quality by placing quantum-dot film above plants to shift sunshine into a red-light emitting spectrum that mimics late-summer sun. That’s considered the most potent time of year for plants, because they sense winter coming and grow faster.

UbiGro increases yields by between 5% and 20% depending on the crop being grown, McDaniel said.


The Impact of Color on your plants
Hunter McDaniel CEO & Founder UbiGro

Hunter McDaniel, PhD

Founder & CEO

 Hunter earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Chemistry Division. Ultimately the value proposition of UbiGro is about boosting crop yields and quality without the cost or energy impact of lighting. Hunter has more than fifty publications and patents, and more than 2000 total citations, h-index: 20. Hunter fundamentally believes that novel materials underpin every significant technology advancement, and he is focused on leveraging new materials to have a lasting and sustainable impact.

Meet The Team

Damon Hebert, PhD

Director of Agriculture

Damon brings a wide range of experience in agriculture, materials science, spectroscopy, and small business. During his time in Prof. Angus Rockett’s research group at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Hebert authored a doctoral thesis and multiple papers on the materials science of CIGS semiconductor materials, which is closely related to the materials developed at UbiQD. He also served as a consultant to Nanosolar, a CIGS nanocrystal solar cell manufacturing company. Hebert has industry experience having co-founded Dr. Jolly’s, a leading cultivation and distribution operation in Bend, OR.

Meet The Team

Tania Lafaille

Sales Representative

Tania is a UbiGro Sales Representative, with over 7 years of experience in product sales (specifically berries and avocados) covering all of North America and parts of South America. While in agriculture, Tania has cultivated strong relationships with growers and distributors, granting her a unique insight into both perspectives. That understanding, paired with her fierce dedication to results, drives her fun and fiery commitment to her craft. Tania is based in Gilroy, CA.

Meet The Team

Tyler Veyna

Sales Representative​

Tyler brings 15 years of experience in Greenhouse production and facility management of a wide range of crops in multiple states to the UbiGro team. Based in Salinas, California. “Being a fourth-generation farmer, I look to improve and empower the grower, and with UbiGro, we can do just that.”

Meet The Team

Jim Gideon

Sales Manager

Jim Gideon is an UbiGro Sales Manager, with over 25 years of greenhouse industry sales experience covering all of North America. Previously Jim has worked for Green Tek, Plazit-Polygal, Texel, Cherry Creek, and Nexus. He is based in Montgomery, AL, and Jim believes that “light is everything to the grower.”

Meet The Team

Eric Moody

Director of Sales

Eric Moody is UbiQD’s Director of UbiGro Sales. Eric has more than 6 years of experience in horticulture lighting industry, building relationships with greenhouse growers of all sizes and crops on optimal lighting for their growing operation, and most recently managed a North American sales team for PL Light Systems. Overall, Eric has been in sales leadership positions for more than 13 years. Eric brings with him a great understanding of the market and available technologies for growers, greenhouse facilities, and sales leadership. Reach Eric by phone at 541-490-6421 or by email at [email protected].

Meet The Team

Mike Burrows, PhD

VP of Business Development

Dr. Michael Burrows is UbiQd’s Vice President of Business Development. His educational background includes a Materials Science doctorate from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business. His career has specialized in the commercialization of novel electronic materials in venture-run programs for different industries including solar, biosensors, and the automotive industry. In both start-up and corporate environments, he has extensive experience in global market development, foraging supply chain partnerships, productization, and brand building. He is currently leading UbiQD’s partnership efforts in luminescent greenhouse technology, smart windows, and security ventures.

Meet The Team

Matt Bergern, PhD

Cheif Product Officer

As Chief Product Officer at UbiQD, Dr. Matt Bergren leads the company’s product development efforts, sales, and product manufacturing, including the company’s first commercial agriculture product, UbiGro. He plays a critical role in continuing the company’s path of technology development and vision of powering product innovations in agriculture, clean energy, and security.

He serves as the principal investigator for UbiQD’s contract with NASA, focused on tailoring the solar spectrum for enhanced crop production for space missions. Dr. Bergren’s leadership experience includes serving on the board of directors for the New Mexico Energy Manufacturing Institute, focused on job creation in New Mexico’s energy, and related manufacturing community.