Site: MERCK JAPAN, LTD.

Date Visited: October 11, 1991

Report Author: W. Doane

ATTENDEES

JTEC:

Covert
Doane
Hoffman
Larimer
Tannas
Thompson
Uyehara

HOST:

Dr. Bernard Rieger
Dr. Shouhei Naemura
Erwin G. Spendler

OVERVIEW OF COMPANY BY MR. SPENDLER

With $2 billion in annual sales, Merck Japan has about 2000 employees.

Industrial chemicals include liquid crystals, electronic chemicals, evaporations (for eyeglass or optic coatings), solvents for etching and cleaning, UV initiators, etc. Most applications are for optics.

Main liquid crystal business includes: Japan, S. E. Asia, small business in Europe and U.S. (see Table Merck.1). Taliq, Inc. buys the largest quantity of LC in U.S.

Breakdown in sales:

U.S.

1 - 2%

Japan

70%

S.E. Asia

25 - 30%

Europe

1 -2%

Merck claims more than 50% of the market. They have strong patent position; therefore their competitors end up buying from them. 13 - 15 tons of LC/year is used in the Japanese market. RODIC--joint venture between LaRoche and Dainippon Ink has another 30% of the market.

R & D of liquid crystals and supplies from Merck include:

General Questions by the Team

Q:

Please comment on the patent situation with cyanobiphenyl materials.

A:

Two years left on cyanobiphenyl (CB), but they also have many mixture patents so that even though other companies can make CBs, they cannot use them.

Q:

Where are LCs synthesized and mixed?

A:

Synthesis is primarily at Darmstadt (largest). The BDH facility at Poole is the principal developer of PDLCs. No synthesis of LC at Merck Japan, but they put together mixtures.

Q:

Do you have set mixtures you sell?

A:

No, normally each sale involves mixtures prepared for specification. Each company wants different characteristics. Every mixture is custom-designed and has a code name to keep a company's mixture proprietary. It can take a year to get the mixture correct. It is entirely Merck's responsibility to get the mixture to the manufacturer's specs. Then, as soon as they meet those, the manufacturer tightens the specs for the next order. One Japanese customer uses 260 different mixtures. Merck does make recommendations to customers to use different alignment materials. Some companies have their own ideas, but generally are more willing to listen to Merck's recommendations. Customers often remix or change the mixtures that Merck supplies them. Purity is always an issue.

Q:

Prices?

A:

$2.85 - $10.00 per gram depending upon material. Cost of LC is 1 - 2% of total cost of TN and STN display - even less for TFT.

Q:

Do you sell material for alignment layers?

A:

No, but study how these materials align on alignment layers. Merck often gives advice to companies, but more often the companies have a fixed idea on alignment layers.

Q:

Do you sell material for color filters (CF)?

A:

No, their pigments are used for other things. Merck does not supply pigments for Toppan's color filter business.

LIQUID CRYSTAL MATERIAL R&D--DR. RIEGER

Dr. Rieger was asked to prepare a table of material specifications normally used for the various display technologies (see Table Merck.2).

General Questions by the Team

Q:

Material interests for STN?

A:

Believes that STN's greatest physical limitation is the slow switching time (viscosity of materials). Want low viscosity and large K(subscript 33)/K(subscript 11) to shorten the switching time. Goal is to improve switching time to compete with AM TFT/TN.
Trade-offs between n and d when d is reduced to improve response time.

Q:

Materials for MIMs?

A:

The development of MIM seems to be going toward using the 1st minimum and then using phase-compensation films.

Q:

What values of n are achievable?

A:

Like higher tilt angle, but tilt angle becomes unstable at higher angles.

Q:

Are temperature ranges a subject of interest?

A:

Often need to sacrifice temperature range to achieve lower drive voltage. Max range is approx. -40-100 degrees centigrade, very difficult to improve on this. There are often many trade-offs in LC materials selections. Storage temperatures do affect the properties of the materials. There often are problems with the LC reacting with other materials in the display, e.g., the glass or sealant.

Q:

Materials for TFT?

A:

Usually want lower elastic constants to reduce drive voltage since there is a limit on delta .

Q:

What resistivities are attainable?

A:

approx. 10(superscript 13) ohms cm are possible. Use fluorine materials for high . Usually low V(subscript Th) have low .

Q:

Where do you see improvements in materials?

A:

Don't see anything radically different in the future - just fine tuning.

Q:

How do you compete?

A:

Technical performance, prices.

Q.

How do you check for chemical deterioration?

A:

Monitor resistivity - good measure of stability.

Q:

Is everyone using polyimides for alignment layers?

A:

Yes - almost.

Q:

What about damage from extreme low and high temperature?

A:

Their measurements stop at -40 degrees centigrade. If material doesn't crystallize after 1000 hrs., they claim it is stable.

Q:

Do you have LC materials below 55 degrees centigrade?

A:

Yes, two materials.

Q:

Who are the suppliers of alignment layers?

A:

Nisson Chem - JSR, Hitachi Chemicals (small).

Q:

What are other alignment layer compounds?

A:

Only polyimides now commercially available.

Q:

How much can you control pre-tilt with compound concentration?

A:

Pre-tilt 1-3 degrees can vary, but usually customer does not request this.

Q:

Does Merck participate in GTC or HDTEC?

A:

Merck does not participate in GTC or HDTEC either directly or indirectly - their customers don't tell them too much about their interests. Merck has no immediate plans to make a large-scale synthesis effort in Japan.

Table Merck.1
Japanese Investment in Large Area LCD-Module Productions

Table Merck.2
Desired Nematic Liquid Crystal Material Characteristics

REFERENCES

  1. "Characterizations of Liquid Crystal Displays," prepared by Dr. B. Rieger, October 11, 1991.
  2. "Japanese Investment in Large Area LCD-Module Productions."
  3. Merck Annual Report 1990.
  4. Merck Japan Limited Brochure.
  5. Merck Ag Zug Annual Report 1990.

Published: June 1992; WTEC Hyper- Librarian