In a definitive show of support for an up-and-coming technology, Merck KGaA has invested approximately 50 million Euros in a new flagship research complex dedicated to developing new products and applications, including organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and liquid-crystal mixtures. The Material Research Center (MRC) includes three laboratory and pilot-plant buildings at the company's site in Darmstadt, Germany (Fig. 1).
This facility represents the largest single investment to date in chemicals research and development at Merck. According to the company, approximately 340 employees are currently developing new products and applications at the Material Research Center. Such products include the aforementioned OLEDs and liquid-crystal mixtures, as well as highly efficient energy storage systems, biochemical as well as microbiological analyses, and additional innovative materials. Merck believes that locating researchers together in the new MRC not only stimulates discussions and the exchange of ideas, but also promotes synergies among various research topics and among the different materials developers, physicists, application engineers, and analytical scientists.
Fig. 1: Merck's new flagship chemical research complex in Darmstadt, Germany, comprises 11,000 square meters of workspace. Photo: Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
OLED materials are one of the focus areas within the MRC, and OLED experts are currently conducting research on innovative products and applications and developing high-performance materials for solution-processed as well as evaporated OLEDs. Researchers in chemical synthesis, material screening, and the application lab, which is designed for building state-of-the-art OLED test cells, are working hand-in-hand to constantly improve material performance and find customized solutions for different display and lighting applications.
The foyer of the MRC is outfitted with the world's largest OLED display, which is being used for presentations and events (Fig. 2). The display was produced by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. It has a surface area of almost 9 square meters and weighs approximately 480 kilograms. According to Merck, this is the first time that OLED technology has been successfully deployed in such a large-format display, although LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have long been used for large displays in venues such as sport stadiums, train stations, and airports. •
Fig. 2: The world's largest OLED display (nearly 9 square meters) is located in the new Material Research Center at Merck in Darmstadt. Photo: Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
"The cathode-ray tube, like the bronto-saurus, will become extinct, and for the same reason: too much bulk, very little brain." – T. P. Brody, 1981
Dr. Thomas Peter Brody, a Fellow of the Society for Information Display and a recipient of numerous awards in recognition of his pioneering work, has died at age 91. During his lifetime, Brody published over 70 scientific papers and received more than 60 patents. Among the many awards he received were a SID Special Recognition Award, a SID Fellowship, the SID Karl Ferdinand Braun Prize, the Rank Prize in Optoelectronics (UK), the Eduard Rhein Prize (Germany), and, most recently, the IEEE Jun-Ichi Nishizawa Medal.
Brody was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1920. In 1938 he left home to train as a master printer at the London College of Printing, intending to take over the family business. Brody also studied piano at the Guildhall School of Music in London and, as a concert pianist, gave recitals in venues including St Martin-in-the-Fields.
He served in the British Army during and after the Second World War, working as a designer/draftsman and in the Special Operations Unit. After being demobilized with the rank of staff captain, Brody met his future wife Maude at a Fabian Society dance in London. They married in 1952.
Brody received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1953 from the University of London. From 1953 to 1959, he worked as Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University. He was offered the opportunity to work for the Research Laboratories of Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1959 and moved with his wife and young daughter to Pittsburgh, PA, that year.
From 1959 to 1979, he did theoretical work on tunnel diodes, semiconductor device theory and experiment, injection luminescence, field emission, and pattern recognition. He eventually turned his interest to thin-film technology.
Over the years 1968–1979, Brody developed many electronic uses for thin-film transistors, including flexible circuits, aircraft power controls, and industrial timers. His work at Westinghouse culminated in the invention and full development of active-matrix flat-panel-display technology. His department built the world's first active-matrix liquid-crystal displays (AMLCDs) in 1972, the first AMEL displays in 1973, and demonstrated real-time video imagery on both types in 1974. He coined the term "active matrix" and introduced it into the literature in 1975.
When Westinghouse cancelled the research program in 1979, Dr. Brody resigned, and two years later founded Panelvision Corporation, the world's first AMLCD company. In 1983, the company introduced the first AMLCD products into the U.S. market. Panelvision was acquired by Litton Systems in 1985, and after a period of consulting, Brody founded Magnascreen Corporation, oriented towards very-large-area displays, in 1988.
Brody left Magnascreen in 1990 to form Active Matrix Associates, a consulting group, and over the period 1991–1997 worked on a number of classified projects for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In 1998, in collaboration with two former Westinghouse colleagues, he invented a process for fabricating low-cost thin-film electronic circuits by purely additive processes. In 2002, he founded Amedeo Corporation (now Advantech US), dedicated to the exploitation of additive technology. The company is concentrating on the development and eventual commercial production of low-cost active-matrix backplanes for emerging display technologies. He was active as Chief Scientist of Advantech US until his death.
Brody was a devoted husband to his beloved wife Maude for 58 years and a loving father to his four children Louise, Francine, Christopher, and Sarah. Throughout his distinguished career, family remained a focal point of his life. He is survived by his younger brother Ferenc, his children, and four grandchildren.
A memorial service was held in Pittsburgh in September. For further information on Brody's life and work, contact Louise Brody at (412) 362-4471 or email email@example.com. •