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OLED Q&A with Dr. Udo Heider - VP of OLED unit at Merck
Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company based in Germany. The company designs, develops and manufactures a wide range of specialised materials including high performance light emitting materials for OLEDs. The OLED business belongs to Mercks' Liquid-Crystal (LC) unit.
I managed to conduct an interview with Dr. Udo Heider, the VP of the LC business unit at Merck (it's called the LC/OLED unit) about their OLED program.
Q: Hello Dr. Heider, and thank you for this interview. Can you describe your range of OLED products in more detail? Are you just into OLED materials, or other IPs as well?
First of all Merck's business is materials.
Merck is approaching the OLED market with both a short-term and a long-term perspective.
For the long term, OLED device manufacturers are indicating a strong need for wet-processable, i.e. ink-jet OLED materials. In cooperation with key customers Merck is developing the materials that will give its customers the potential to significantly reduce factory process and equipment costs.
Q: What are the advantages of your OLED materials? Can you give us some technical details? (efficiency, lifetime, etc.)
Q: You have just announced that you will buy OLED-T's IP assets... Can you give us more info on this? How will OLED-T's material complement your own portfolio?
Q: OLED-T has developed phosphorescent OLEDs. Some say that Universal Display owns the basic phosphorescent-OLED patents. So if someone wants to use these materials, does he need to license from UDC as well?
Q: Can you name some companies that are already using your materials or IPs? Are there any products on the market that have OLEDs that are "Merck Inside"?
Merck can confirm that it considers having control of marketing and sales of OLED materials as very important to understand the customers and market requirements. These are absolutely essential for us, to have the development focus exactly on those points that will enable the OLED market to grow and prosper in future.
So, Merck is participating actively with its materials in the OLED market but cannot comment further.
Q: We are taking a special interest in OLED for lighting - which you are working on. Any updates in this regard?
Q: Your CEO recently said that "OLEDs will not replace LCDs till 2030". Do you guys still hold this view? If so, why invest in OLED materials now?
As history shows, it can take a very long time for a new technology to fully replace an incumbent technology, i.e. there is still a market for CRT TVs. On the other hand you can see the first small OLED–TVs like the SONY XEL-1 already on the market.
Q: What do you think are the main challenges still ahead for the OLED industry?
A new technology has to bring key values to the end customer as well as to the device manufacturer. While the key values for the end customer of OLEDs are sufficiently clear to the broad community, the manufacturing yield and processes will drive the ultimate cost of the OLED product. Merck is addressing these needs from the material perspective.
Q: Where do you see Merck's OLED business five years from now?
Q: It seems like OLED prototypes were very strong in CES, but no new OLED TVs. I wonder what you guys think of that as well.
Dr. Heider - thank you again for this interview. I wish you and Merck OLED unit great success in the coming years...