Shortly after the CES in Las Vegas, it was time for BAU 2019 in Munich, Germany. The contrast between these leading exhibitions for the electronics and building industries couldn’t be greater, yet the Performance Materials team and I feel totally at home in both sectors. After all, our technologies are used not only in computer chips or smartphone displays. Architects also rely on our products in different applications.
Technologies for buildings of the future
Today, architects are expected to design buildings that not only look good, but also meet increasingly demanding functionality and energy-efficiency requirements. At BAU 2019 in Munich, our Performance Materials business therefore showcased liquid crystal windows, dimmable at the push of a button. The new technology bridges the gap between functionality and visual appeal.
Our high-performance coating solutions, which protect building façades against heat, moisture and scratches, were another highlight of our exhibition stand. For instance, our Durazane® protective coatings allow surfaces to maintain both their appearance and feel. Obviously, BAU 2019 offered a perfect stage for us to present our products for architecture. The exhibition attracted over 2,000 exhibitors from 45 countries and several thousand visitors.
Focus on liquid crystal windows
The liquid crystal technology we presented is standard today in modern displays – whether in televisions, laptops or smartphones. Merck is both the market and technology leader in this field. With our “dynamic glass”, we now want to capture entirely new application and growth areas, and we’re making good progress here. Back in 2017 we opened a production site for liquid crystal window modules in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. And in October of last year, we presented “eyrise™”, our new product brand for dynamic liquid crystal windows.
Bridging the gap between functionality and design
Our eyrise™ windows are opening up entirely new design possibilities in architecture. They brighten or dim indoor lighting conditions naturally, depending on how strongly the sun is shining through the windows. The view outside the windows remains clear and the color of the window panes does not change when the windows are darkened. As blinds are no longer needed, functionality and design go hand-in-hand. What’s more, we offer our eyrise™ windows in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors. This allows architects to make use of the aesthetic advantages of glass without dispensing with the shading functionality.
This not only creates a pleasant room ambience, but also saves energy. On the one hand, the liquid crystal windows can use the thermal energy from daylight more efficiently. And thanks to the shading function, there’s less need for air conditioning. In addition to light transmission, our liquid crystal windows can also regulate transparency. For example, if you don’t want to be disturbed in a conference room, a push of a button is all it takes to make the windows opaque.
The frames of the eyrise™ windows presented at BAU 2019 also featured a pigment coating from Merck that protects against wind and weather as well as aggressive chemicals. WAY technology is particularly interesting for architectural applications that are exposed to very strong sunlight.
Architects are relying on Merck
Of course, exhibitions are not the reason why we invest so much in our technologies. What makes me really proud is that more and more architects are relying on our eyrise™ liquid crystal windows. Multiple major constructions projects are currently underway.
At the new headquarters of the FC Group in Karlsruhe, eyrise™ technology is being used for the first time on the entire façade of a building. Another sensational construction project is the Niemeyer Sphere at the headquarters of the German crane manufacturer Kirow in Leipzig. The spectacular spherical building, which will house a café, was designed by the world-famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. In order to ensure that the building doesn’t become too bright or warm inside despite its large glass surfaces, the architects opted for liquid crystal windows from Merck. The six-meter-tall replica of the project was a real eye-catcher, attracting a lot of interest at our stand.
We’re still in the very early stages of liquid crystal windows. Yet the technology has tremendous potential – not least since the aspect of sustainability will continue to gain importance in building construction. When the next BAU exhibition takes place in two years from now, many more façades will feature our liquid crystal windows.