Merck invests €15 million in manufacture of smart liquid crystal windows

November 30, 2017 // By Julien Happich
Chemical company Merck announced the opening of a new production facility for liquid crystal window modules in Veldhoven (the Netherlands), which represented an investment of around €15 million to expand its expertise beyond televisions, laptops, smartphones, and tablet PCs, moving into smart buildings.

The window module technology, which Merck believes will be the world's first commercial supplier, offers new application possibilities and light transmittance regulation within seconds for sun protection and privacy applications.

Merck does not see itself as a competitor to glass and window manufacturers, but rather will supply the modules (starting in 2018) to enable them to make these smart glass elements, windows and façades. In addition, Merck will assists architects, designers as well as window an façade makers in an advisory capacity.

In sun protection applications, exterior blinds and their costly maintenance and repair would become obsolete. The light transmittance of the windows can be lowered down to 5% and set in a continuously variable manner. Energy savings of up to 40% are thus possible with building climate control systems. In both the dark and the bright state, the windows remain transparent and color-neutral, providing an unhindered view outside.

The privacy variant also switches within seconds from transparent to opaque, preventing outsiders from being able to look inside conference rooms, restricted production areas or residential buildings. The liquid crystal materials, which are marketed under the licrivision brand, are also to be used in vehicles in the future.