Established for 346 years, Merck is one of the oldest, and yet most innovative technology company in the world. This is a result of its long-term growth, continuous expansion, and constant changes. In order to reflect its current new position, Merck has launched a new branding system, which was inspired by the multiple forms of chemical molecules under optical and electron microscopic observation. The new branding look brings a vivid, colorful and splendid style of how Merck intends to shape the future.
Right after the rebranding campaign, Merck held the "Display Insight 2015" just in time to showcase the new changes in the company. The most obvious one is the use of the name "Display Insight" instead of "LC Insight" for the seminar. This years' Display Insight, which took place at Sheraton Hsinchu Hotel on October 27th 2015, is renamed to deliver a clear message. Through mergers and acquisitions, including AZ Electronics Materials and Qlight Nanotech Ltd., an Israeli quantum materials company in the past years, Merck has acquired cutting edge technologies to provide a comprehensive product portfolio to its display customers and to expand with new technologies outside of liquid crystals.
By exploiting these new technologies, Merck aims to sustain its leadership in the display materials industry. Through broadened product portfolios and further technological advancements, Merck implemented customer-centered business model to help customers to achieve differentiation in the market and sustain their outstanding performance.
Before the event of Display Insight 2015, DIGITIMES interviewed Dr. Sang-Kyu Lee, R&D Head of Merck Display Technologies. He highlighted new display technologies like UB-FFS, a newly introduced liquid crystal material, next generation low-K dialectic material Siloxane, as well as Merck's quantum material "Q-Rod", which helps improve color impression and energy efficiency of display devices. At the seminar, Dr. Lee also introduced liquid crystals for beyond display applications to expand the usage of display materials to the industrial partners and event participants.
UB-FFS dedicated for 4K Smartphone display and further applications
UB-FFS (Ultra Bright Fringe Field Switching) is Merck's newly developed liquid crystal materials particularly for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This technology has recently won 2 prestigious prizes, including the 2015 German Innovation Award and Display Component of the Year Gold Award of SID (Society for Information Display). UB-FFS provides higher light transmittance, better image resolution and consumes less energy, which is very important especially for higher end smartphones.
Dr. Lee was the development team leader of UB-FFS and has made important contributions to this technology. He joined Merck in 2005, after he received the PhD degree in University of Bonn, Germany. Dr. Lee worked for Merck's R&D department as his first job until now and he never left Merck ever since. In the summer of 2015, he was offered the position to lead Taiwan Display Materials R&D team, where he intend to help customers adopt the latest technology, including UB-FFS liquid crystal material. He explained in detail the many advantages that UB-FFS can bring to display makers. .
First of all, mobile devices rely on battery power to perform its functions; therefore, extending battery life is critical for smartphones. All mobile display materials need to feature power saving scheme equipped with very low voltage driving capability. Taking 4K resolution smartphone LCD panel as an example, there are four times of image pixels squeezing into the same square inches of panel area. The aperture ratio of display panel drops dramatically and leaves challenges of display materials. The strength of high light transmitting ratio of UB-FFS overcomes these issues, and at the same time, saves immense power consumption.
Meanwhile, the higher display transmissions smartphone panels enabled by UB-FFS technology allow greater design freedom for product developers. Devices now can be made slimmer because of the possibility of using thinner batteries. Alternatively, designers can opt for a longer battery life because less backlighting source will be required for display panels. Using UB-FFS materials also leads to cost reduction for manufacturers and hence benefits for consumers.
Secondly, another important feature of UB-FFS is dynamic frequency driving capability. Smartphone or tablet users view static pictures or web pages more than video clips. The capability to give alternative display frequency options can benefit a great deal of extra energy saving. If display frequency of panel reduced from 60Hz to 30Hz, even aggressively in 10Hz, the display panel will save energy for 30% than normal display conditions, according to experimental records tested in the laboratory. This is one of the bestselling points for all smartphones or tablets of global brands, and it is also the reason why UB-FFS has successfully achieved high market penetration rate in the world. You can easily discover the global brands in United States, Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan to launch flagship smartphones that leverage the strength of UB-FFS technologies.
Low-K material Siloxane plays the key roles in 8K display panel
The next generation LC display will be a triumph in taking resolution to the 8K level. There are several technology challenges when squeezing smaller pixels into different panel sizes. The impact of lower aperture ratio of display caused by higher resolution can be overcome by higher light transmittance from liquid crystal material. But the effect can be further enhanced with Merck's functional dielectric material "Siloxane". Siloxane materials provide low-K and high optical transparency features suited for process having superior planarization and gap filling properties on uneven surface. Using Siloxane materials reduces the resistance−capacitance (RC) delay and signal interference in the high resolution display panels. This will enhance panel's aperture ratio and increase the energy efficiency to save power.
Siloxane has many astonished features including high temperature resistant up to 350óJ, and high UV resistant, which enable to go through the advanced manufacturing process. Siloxane will be the most competitive material especially in 8K panel manufacturing process. It can significantly improve image quality and energy efficiency for 8K display panel.
Quantum Rod depicts the future of display panel materials
Quantum Rod (Q-Rod) is nano-grade semiconductor crystal materials. Since 2007, Merck started to develop this technology with Qlight Nanotech, a former Israeli company which Merck acquired in July 2015. Unlike the conventional quantum material that are dotted shaped, Merck created its material in rod-shaped and calls it Q-Rod. The materials offer the features to absorb incoming light of short wavelengths (usually deep blue light) and emit colors at longer wavelengths (green and red color) with very narrow bandwidths. Q-rod materials can be used in the backlight units of liquid crystal displays to increase light throughput, extend the color range, and provide stronger, more natural greens and reds.
Q-Rod materials provide a similar color conversion mechanism and extend color
gamut like spherical quantum dots. Their unique advantage is that they emit polarized light and allow an even higher light throughput through the polarizer, which results in remarkable brightness improvement for display panel. In addition, its impressive power saving features can drastically extends battery life in mobile devices. Due to their special physical properties, Q-Rod materials also enable the development of future display technologies and modes.
Beyond Display continuing the efforts to develop innovation
The demonstration of Beyond Display is always the most eye-catching for visitors. Through the events of Merck's LC 2021 initiatives to different technology forums, Smart Window (Liquid Crystal Window) is one of the key fields that Merck tries to expand its display technology.
Focusing on continuous driver of technology and innovation for display materials in fields beyond displays, Merck is exploring new business fields outside of classic displays. By making different use of liquid crystal materials and working with product designers and industrial experts, smart products such as Smart Window, Smart Antenna, Smart Lighting applications are developed to enhance people's lifestyle with technologies. .
"There are more emerging applications that are becoming more popular than before", Dr. Lee highlighted. "For the headlight design of Europe luxury cars, display materials can also be used to enable Smart Lighting to enhance safe driving and road traffic safety with automatic brightness adjustment when two passing cars are facing each other." Other applications include naked eyes 3D holography for implementing genuine 3D technology using holography that is increasingly used at gaming solution providers and education markets.
"As a market leader", Dr. Lee insisted," Merck will keep focusing on the development of display materials by investing in technology research and acquisition." With continuing material innovations, Merck has been playing the active role to serve the industries. In the event of Display Insight 2015, with a wide range of product portfolios to be showcased, Merck will present to participants and partners to witness its latest display materials and technologies.
Merck's new branding image in front of its Innovation Center at the headquarter in Germany
Dr. Sang-Kyu Lee, R&D Head of Merck Display Technologies
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