A system and method for operating a light emitting device utilizing charged quantum dots is described. In one embodiment, charged quantum dots are suspended in a liquid between an excitation plate and a cover plate. The excitation plate carries short-wave excitation light. Charged quantum dots near the surface of the excitation plate may emit light in response to an evanescent field generated by the short-wave excitation light undergoing total internal reflection within the excitation plate. The excitation plate and the cover plate may be coated with one or more transparent electrodes. The movement of charged quantum dots within the liquid may be controlled by applying one or more bias voltages to the one or more transparent electrodes. Light emission from a particular region near the surface of the excitation plate may be controlled by moving charged quantum dots into or out of the particular region.