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

Business news |
By eeNews Europe

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.

“We recently started taking orders from customers for modules that will be ready for delivery as of early 2018. The industry interest in liquid crystal windows we’ve seen so far is very positive”, said Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Performance Materials.

Research is currently underway for further application possibilities, for instance in air and sea travel. Recognition as an important innovation driver Long-term tests under real conditions show that innovative liquid crystal windows also live up to their promise in practical applications. Installed in 2015, the liquid crystal windows in the western façade of Merck’s modular Innovation Center in Darmstadt have been operating perfectly even on hot summer days and icy-cold winter nights. In September 2016, the sun protection and privacy variants were installed in the new OLED production building at the Darmstadt site.

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