“The award honors us for having developed a breakthrough technology with true competitive advantage. We are proud that our expertise in liquid crystal materials is making windows that switch within seconds possible,” said Michael Heckmeier, head of the Display Materials business unit of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “Initial applications are resonating well with our customers in the architecture and automotive sectors. They are already waiting for production to start at our new site in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, at the end of 2017.”
Three different variants of liquid crystal windows can be used in buildings: sun protection, glare protection, and privacy control. The sun protection variant will also be used for automotive applications. Thanks to the selection of colors and shapes, the windows can be optimally adapted to the surroundings and they offer a high degree of design freedom.
The sun protection variant can be realized in different light transmittance bandwidths and achieves energy savings of up to 40% in building climate control systems. For users, the windows offer convenience since they offer continuously variable switching within seconds and are absolutely transparent and color-neutral in both, the bright and the dark state.
With the glare protection variant, the glass not only darkens, it also becomes diffuse in order to prevent sun glare, for example on a computer monitor. Window shades or blinds are no longer needed. The privacy variant switches from transparent to translucent and prevents outsiders from seeing in. The materials, which are marketed under the licrivision brand, will also be used in vehicles. The first automotive manufacturers are planning to use the technology in the sunroofs of premium cars. In addition, Merck KGaA is evaluating use in airplanes, ships and sunglasses.