Merck KGaA has opened its new production plant for OLED materials in Darmstadt, Germany. After a 14-month construction period, high-purity OLED materials for use in state-of-the-art displays and lighting systems are being produced in the approximately 3,600 square meter building. With a total investment of around € 30 million, this is one of the largest single investments Merck KGaA has made at the Darmstadt site in recent years.
The plant enables a fivefold increase in production capacity and can be started up stepwise. By 2018, Merck KGaA aims to be one of the leading suppliers of OLED materials and deliver from a single source all the chemical materials necessary for OLED displays. The company is benefiting from its experience in the liquid crystals business, where it is the global leader.
“OLED technology has the potential to become the technology of the future for displays and lighting,” said Walter Galinat, member of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, at today’s opening ceremony attended by around 200 guests. These included Tarek Al-Wazir, Minister of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional Development for the German Federal State of Hesse, and Jochen Partsch, Mayor of the City of Darmstadt.
“We invested considerable resources in OLED technology early on and are excellently positioned. This applies to Darmstadt, where our OLED materials are developed and manufactured, and to countries such as Japan, Korea and China, where we operate application labs to work closely with our customers,” said Galinat.
Al-Wazir praised the company’s investment as it “sustainably helps to strengthen the state of Hesse and the Rhine-Main region as a location for the development and production of future technologies such as OLED. The plant reflects the region’s great innovative strength.”
In his speech, Partsch underscored the importance of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, as a research-based company to Darmstadt, the city of science. “The new OLED materials production plant is a further expression of the commitment of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, to the Darmstadt site, showing that it is home to top-caliber research, development and production.”
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are semiconducting organic materials that emit light and luminesce when electric voltage is applied. They are particularly suited for use in state-of-the-art displays and lighting. OLED displays provide brilliant colors and sharp images from any viewing angle, have a long lifespan and are highly energy-efficient. In addition, they are thin and flexible, which allows entirely new shapes and opens up a broad spectrum of totally new applications.
The latest technological advances in flexible OLED displays are enabling unique smartphones in new shapes, which are attracting a high degree of interest from consumers. In the future, the ceilings of subway cars, offices or apartments could be transformed into information panels or a view of a blue sky. In order to turn these visions into reality, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is working on ultra-thin, printable OLED displays. This will allow the manufacture of flexible or rollable displays, for instance for video walls or windows. OLED technology will also create new possibilities in the automotive sector, medicine and education. The first cars with OLED tail lights can already be seen on roads.