Approximately 95% of all smartphone and tablet displays are based on liquid crystal technology. Merck is the global market and technology leader in liquid crystals, coming in large-size flat screen TVs, as well as in mobile phones, digital cameras and much more. In order to maintain a competitive edge, it is essential to constantly improve the performance of liquid crystals. A team at Merck has achieved significant advancements in displays for for smartphones and tablet PCs, for which it has been awarded the 2014 Meyer-Galow Prize for business chemistry.
This award by the German Chemical Society (GDCh) was presented today by its President and Merck Chemicals CTO, Thomas Geelhaar, during a ceremony at Merck. The prize went to Michael Heckmeier, Harald Hirschmann, Roman Maisch and Sang-Kyu Lee for the work they began around five years ago.
Within the scope of Merck's project "Energy-efficient liquid crystals for smartphones and tablets", chemists, physicists, engineers and marketing experts, in particular prizewinners Heckmeier, Hirschmann, Maisch and Lee, developed new liquid crystal technologies in close liaison with display manufacturers. Liquid crystals enable fast-switching displays featuring high contrast, a broad viewing angle and high resolution, which can be used in touch panel devices. Significant improvements have been accomplished with the new developments from Darmstadt. The liquid crystal mixtures are called, for example, “IPS” (In-Plane Switching) and “FFS” (Fringe Field Switching) and are optimized for use in tablets and smartphones. Five years after the start of the project, nearly 90% of all smartphones now have IPS/FFS displays. A special advantage is the significantly lower energy consumption of the devices. A further developed technology, “UB FFS” (Ultra-Brightness Fringe Field Switching), can reduce the energy consumption even further.
Karl-Ludwig Kley, Chairman of the Executive Board of Merck, expressed his special appreciation of the team's achievements during the award ceremony by saying, "…this underlines our claim to market and technology leadership in liquid crystals. The successful project also demonstrates the advantages of working in interdisciplinary teams and interacting with our customers."
The Meyer-Galow Prize, created in 2012, was donated by Professor Erhard Meyer-Galow, former Chairman of the Board of Management of Hüls AG and former President of the GDCh. The prize has been awarded by the GDCh annually since then. Meyer-Galow mainly worked at the interface between chemistry and market and held lectures at the University of Münster on "Business chemistry in the chemical industry". In Darmstadt, he emphasized, "Today we are honoring chemical products and processes that are particularly sustainable and highly valuable to society."