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Merck Celebrates 100 Years of Liquid Crystal Technology Innovation

28-05-2004: Merck KGaA, the world's leading liquid crystal supplier for the display industry, today kicked off the celebration of its 100th anniversary in liquid crystal technology. The centennial celebration for the major industry milestone began among the display industry's leading players at the annual Society for Information Display (SID) International Symposium in Seattle, Washington.

"Merck marketed the first liquid crystals in 1904, so we're celebrating both a commercial milestone for Merck, as well as a technology milestone for the industry," said Bernhard Scheuble, CEO of Merck KGaA. "It is our goal to continue to lead the innovation in display technologies based on liquid crystals and their future evolutions."

"Given the incredible advances in quality, we believe liquid crystal displays (LCD) will remain the dominant display technology for the foreseeable future," said Scheuble.

Today Merck KGaA has a global market share of 69% for all types of liquid crystals, and is the leading supplier for the LCD industry globally. Its customers include virtually all the industry's top manufacturers.

In 2003, worldwide production of LCD televisions was well below 10 million sets, but industry analysts expect that market to grow by 50% annually at least through 2008. Merck's sales of liquid crystals and related products jumped 61% to EUR 136 million in the first quarter of 2004, spurred by demand for flat-screen TVs. In order to meet the high demand, Merck will bring on line a new, state-of-the-art EUR 250 million LC production plant later this year in Darmstadt, Germany. The company will invest a further EUR 30 million on production capacity expansions at its facilities in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. These investments will allow Merck to triple its liquid crystal production capacity.

Merck is the leading supplier for the two most advanced liquid crystal technologies used in modern displays - Vertical Alignment (VA) and In-Plane Switching (IPS). In November of 2003, Merck KGaA was awarded the German Future Prize by Federal President Johannes Rau for its work with liquid crystals. The winning project, "Lighter, brighter, faster: Liquid crystals for TV screen," was the development of liquid crystal technology that allows display manufacturers to produce flat, energy-saving, large-format LCD screens.

Merck's award-winning scientists developed the newest generation of liquid crystals, which allow LCD manufacturers to make crystal-clear television screens bigger than 50 inches. These patented technologies mean that Merck is the leading LC supplier for big-screen TVs.

In addition to TVs, Merck's liquid crystal technology is used for applications such as PDAs, navigation systems, cell phones, laptops and monitors.

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