Merck is a global healthcare, life sciences and performance materials company based in Germany, with a history that goes back to 1668. The company designs, develops and manufactures a wide range of specialized materials including high performance OLED materials.
Following Mercks' 2005 acquisition of Covion and the 2008 OLED-T acquisition, Merck is supplying OLED materials to several OLED makers including LGD, Samsung and the Fraunhofer FEP (COMEDD). The company's OLED research program focuses on solution-processable materials.
In 2013, we interviewed Dr. Udo Heider, VP of OLED unit at Merck, who updated us on the company's OLED business and materials. In 2016, Merck constructed a €30 Million OLED materials production plant in Darmstadt as the company sees OLED as one of its future growth drivers. Merck is collaborating with several companies on OLED technologies, including Seiko Epson and Idemitsu Kosan.
The latest Merck OLED news:
Many OLED producers believe that Ink-Jet printing of OLED emissive materials is the best way to achieve lower-cost OLED TV production, and to enable OLEDs to compete in the medium part of the TV market. Ink-Jet printing is an efficient process (less material waste compared to evaporation) and it can be very quick as well. The main drawbacks of inkjet are the limited resolution and the need for soluble emissive materials which are less efficient compared to evaporation ones.
A Kateeva OLED ink-jet printing system
These challenges are being overcome, and it seems that at least four groups (in Korea, Japan and China) are charging forward towards mass production of ink-jet printed OLEDs. Ink-jet printer makers and soluble material suppliers are also optimistic ink-jet printing commercialization will soon be here as the material performance gap is diminishing.
Merck, OLEDWorks, OPVIUS and Kolon launched a new textile-based "façade" concept that combines OLED lighting panels and OPV (organic PV panels). The new structure was launched as part of the first Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.
The façade, in which the structure is made from Bamboo, was designed by architects Nikolaus Hirsch, Michel Müller and artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. The same installation will also be delivered to more exhibitions in Germany and Thailand during 2018.
How will the phosphorescent emitter market look in 2018, following UDC's basic material patent expiration?
The phosphorescent OLED emitter market is currently dominated by Universal Display who owns the basic patents to phosphorescent OLED emitters. All the major OLED makers (including Samsung and LGD) are using UDC's materials in order to achieve higher display efficiencies, beyond what is available from fluorescent emitters.
Universal Display holds over 4,000 issued and pending patents, but some of its basic phosphorescent patents are set to expire by the end of 2017. Honestly, it is very difficult to know exactly what effect this will have on the market - some analysts believe that it will carry very little effect while others say that this will open the door for other companies to sell competing phosphorescent emitters.
Merck is going to discuss its latest soluble OLED material performance at SID DisplayWeek 2017 next month. Merck will detail the printed device efficiencies, voltages, and colors.
According to Merck, the efficiencies of its soluble OLED emitters are now comparable to state-of-the-art vapor-processed devices. Merck will also suggest a move from an evaporated blue common layer device architecture to a printed blue.
The EU launched a new project called HyperOLED with an aim to develop materials and matching device architectures for high-performance, hyperfluorescence TADF OLED emitters. HyperOLED is coordinated by Merck, and the project partners include MicroOLED and the Fraunhofer IOF institute. This three years project received a €4 million grant from the EU.
These OLED emitters will be realized by combining TADF molecular hosts with novel shielded fluorescence emitters, targeting saturated blue emission of very high efficiency at high brightness. The project will also achieve efficiency gains through molecular alignment to enhance light outcoupling.
Digitimes Researcher states that currently Samsung Display and LG Display both rely on imported organic materials used in OLED production, but the two Korean makers aim to decrease this reliance. Both companies are buying stakes in companies outside of Korea (for example Samsung's Novaled acquisition and Sun Fine Chem investment) in order to obtain patents and move production in house, mostly at LG Chem and Samsung SDI.
The polyimide used as a substrate in flexible OLEDs, for example, is produced by Japanese Ube Industries - and used by both LG and samsung. Several organic materials used in the OLED stack are produced by Universal Display (PHOLED emitters), Idemitsu Kosan, Dow Chemical and Merck. Both companies use glass mostly from Corning and high-temperature thin film for the back-end processing from 3M.
Merck and Idemitsu Kosan have entered into a collaboration agreement that allows each company to use the other company's OLED material-related IP in certain areas. Both Merck and Idemitsu hope that this will enable both companies to develop higher-performance OLED materials.
Merck and Idemitsu also expect to continue discussions and expand the collaboration to other areas in the future.
In June 2015, Merck began to construct a new €30 Million OLED materials production plant in Darmstadt, Germany. Merck announced that the new production plant is now operational, and it provides a fivefold increase in the company's OLED materials production capacity.
Merck aims to become one of the leading suppliers of OLED materials by 2018. The company believes that OLED has the potential to become the technology of the future for displays and lighting.
A few weeks ago we posted about Merck's soluble OLED material performance, and today we have some more data from the OLED Association. In the table below you can see how Merck's, Sumitomo and DuPont's soluble materials compare to UDC's evaporable OLED's materials.
As you can see, for the red material, evaporable OLEDs have a clear lead in lifetime and efficiency. For the green material that efficiency gap has pretty much closed, while the lifetime of the evaporable materials are still about double than the best soluble materials.
In January 2013, Merck said that the performance gap between soluble and evaporable OLED emitters is closed - at least in the lab. Earlier this month at the OLED World Summit the company revealed the development results of their phosphorescent materials, comparing them to UDC's materials (as published on UDC's website).
Merck's red emitter features an efficiency of 19.1cd/A, a lifetime (L90) of 5,900 hours and the CIE is (0.66, 0.34). UDC's red material features an efficiency of 29 cd/A and a lifetime of 23,000 hours. Merck's green material features an of 76.4cd/A, a lifetime of 5,200 hours, and the CIE is (0.32, 0.63). UDCs green features an efficiency of 85 cd/A and lifetime of 18,000 hours, The CIE is similar (0.31, 0.63).