Merck Presents Materials for Innovative Lighting Systems at the IAA

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Liquid crystals in smart auto headlights make optimum road illumination possible
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
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Sun Roof Concept Car Mock Up

[Darmstadt, Germany] Merck, a global science and technology company, will showcase a multitude of innovative solutions for the automotive industry at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany.

One focus will be on materials for lighting systems that set new standards in highperformance road illumination, optimum visibility and strong recognition. Two technologies with materials from Merck are at the forefront of this development. Smart matrix headlights with liquid crystals from Merck illuminate the road according to the traffic situation, for instance by blocking out headlight beams of oncoming traffic in a targeted manner. In a research project, a real headlight assembly was developed and is currently being tested in a Porsche Panamera.

The second focus of the automotive lighting topic will be on rear lights with OLED materials from Merck. These are already being used in modules from Osram in the BMW M4 and several Audi models. Dieter Schroth, Head of the Merck Automotive Platform, explains, “As a leading science and technology company, we have been supplying the automotive industry with a wide range of products for a long time. Manufacturers of lighting systems and vehicles are now also benefiting from our extensive expertise in the LCD and OLED fields. The resulting innovative lighting systems are setting new standards and are intrinsically combining their respective advantages.”

Smart LCD matrix headlights for fully adaptive lighting

Optimum road lighting in the dark improves traffic safety and makes driving a little easier. Headlights with liquid crystal shutters go a step further than conventional systems as they adjust the light distribution as needed in real time. The core component is the display with liquid crystals developed specifically by Merck for this application and featuring high temperature stability. The display consists of a matrix of 100 x 300 pixels. Each of the 30,000 pixels can be individually controlled.

The headlamp system developed by lighting and electronic components expert Hella is connected to a vehicle camera that precisely detects oncoming traffic or highly reflective elements so that the matrix can be dimmed or blocked out to pixel precision – if necessary up to 60 times per second.

The fully adaptive LCD headlamp is a joint research project involving not only Hella and Merck, but also Porsche, among others. The lighting system, which is currently being tested in a Porsche Panamera, has vast development potential that remains to be exploited. Complex functions are also conceivable, for instance to project navigation arrows or lane markings to support driver safety. Perspective functions,
such as those that will be important for autonomous driving, are also possible.

OLED technology for bright and striking rear lights

Rear lights from Osram with OLED materials from Merck are already available in selected vehicles such as the Audi TT, the new Audi A8 and the BMW M4. As flat light sources, the extremely thin and very lightweight OLEDs offer automotive manufacturers totally new design possibilities and significant construction advantages since the components require less space and do not require cooling. Further advantages are that they provide even and largely dazzle-free illumination, and they are easily recognizable from all viewing angles. Plus, OLED rear lights are highly energy-efficient and only require a low direct current voltage. With OLEDS, Merck is also demonstrating the future application potential of this technology. In the future, flexible OLED light sources that can be mounted onto bendable surfaces will be ubiquitous. Your benefit: The flat modules can have nearly any desired shape, giving automotive designers even more freedom. The virtual concept car from Merck and the partial model thereof on display at the IAA will show what this could look like in practice.

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