Marijuana Business Magazine February 2019

February 2019 | 51 Let It Glow COMPANY UbiQD | WHERE Los Alamos, New Mexico FOUNDED 2014 | PRODUCT UbiGro is a quantum-dot film that converts sunlight into the red-orange spectrum light that plants crave when flowering. The light also helps increase yield. TARGET MARKET Cultivators | PRICE A company spokesman declined to quote a cost but said it is significantly cheaper than the roughly $100 per square foot that some greenhouses spend on under-canopy lighting. Cannabis growers often use expensive LED lights to bathe plants in the red-orange light spectrum that triggers flowering and boosts production. UbiQD has harnessed quantum dots— tiny particles of semiconductors like those used in computer chips and solar cells—to create UbiGro. The quantum dots are made into an inklike substance that is injected between two sheets of plastic film, which are then attached to the sides and roof of a greenhouse. The film does the same thing as lights but at a much lower cost and smaller environmental footprint, according to UbiQD chief scientist Damon Hebert. The red light also helps increase THC production by 5% and terpene production by 14%, Hebert said. Quantum dots have been used in other industries but not agriculture. Most quantum dots developed so far feature a cad- mium base, which is sensitive to ultraviolet light and inclem- ent weather and, thus, loses effectiveness. UbiQD’s breakthrough was developing copper-based quan- tum dots, which can withstand intense light and bad weather and be used in agriculture. The company has installed UbiGro for five vegetable grow- ers in New Mexico and has a NASA contract to create film for growing crops in space. UbiQD has pilots in two cannabis greenhouses in Colorado and one in Oregon and plans more pilots this year. The cannabis pilots have seen 10% yield in- creases, Hebert said. Hebert declined to quote a cost but said UbiGro is signifi- cantly cheaper than the roughly $100 per square foot that some greenhouses spend on under-canopy lighting. “If we can realize a 5%-10% yield improvement, that’s a return on investment of three months to six months,” Hebert said. Hebert said UbiGro’s current plastic film will last five years, but he plans to develop a model using glass sheets that will last 20 years. The ultimate goal is to have the quantum dots in- stalled in greenhouse glass or polyurethane, to make “a creme de la creme of greenhouse glass.” UbiGro quantum-dot film—which creates the orange- hued light in this greenhouse—was created by a company that works with NASA. Courtesy Photo