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Merck, Seiko Epson to Partner on Organic LED Inkjet Inks

Dot matrix display (Steve Snodgrass/Flickr)The chemical company Merck in Darmstadt, Germany will license ink-jet ink technology from electronics manufacturer Seiko Epson in Tokyo for the manufacture of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) television displays. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

OLEDs use thin films of carbon-based materials — thus the name “organic” — placed between two conductors. When electrical current is sent through the materials, a bright light is emitted, with each pixel in the display acting as a small light-emitting diode. Unlike lquid-crystal displays or LCDs, OLED materials emit light directly and do not need a back light, although LCDs account for most of the flat-screen TVs sold.

Under the agreement, Epson will supply Merck with ink technology that dissolves Merck’s OLED materials for the production of printable displays used in OLED screens. Printing OLED displays requires both robust OLED materials and a process for quickly and accurately firing those OLED materials.

Merck brings to the deal its experience in the production of high-quality OLED materials for inkjet manufacturing. Epson contributes its expertise in technology that converts OLED materials into ink, and allows this ink to be fired from an inkjet printing device.

The collaboration is expected to reduce manufacturing costs of OLED displays. “Combining our technologies with Epson will make the mass production of large OLED displays possible,” says Merck’s chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley, “which until now with current technologies has proven to be financially and technically difficult.”

Merck and Seiko Epson plan to continue their cooperation on other common OLED inkjet issues, including industry-standard inks for manufacturing OLED TVs using inkjet technology. The companies cite market research data showing OLED displays capturing seven percent of the television market by 2017.

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Hat tip: Cientifica

Photo: Steve Snodgrass/Flickr

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