Shown above is Merck Korea’s OLED research center in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Merck started mass production of materials for premium OLED smartphones in the city. Photo courtesy of Merck Korea

Tech giant starts mass production of hole transport materials

Merck Korea announced on July 22 that the tech giant had started churning out hole transport materials (HTMs) at its new facility in Pyongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.

The Seoul-based company said that common layers of OLED in premium displays will adopt its HTMs, which are essential to enhance the power conversion efficiency of panels.

Merck, which has been supplying HTMs for large OLED panels for LG Display, strives to expand its HTM mass production to mobile panels for the premium OLED smartphones, possibly for LG Display.

“South Korea is leading the global OLED market. Merck is investing substantial resources required to enable Korean panel markets to lead the OLED market,” Merck Korea Managing Director Kim Wookyu said.

“Since Merck opened the Korea OLED R&D center in 2011, the R&D facilities, manpower, and OLED production facility have been continuously reinforced to provide short-distance services to Korean panel makers and make it possible to respond quickly to the highest quality materials produced in Korea.”

He also noted that the expanded application of the material had laid the foundation for even closer cooperation with Korean OLED panel makers in the future.

The demand for premium OLED panels and their components has been on a sharp rise.

According to business tracker Display Supply Chain Consultants, the number of flexible OLED panels produced by LG Display for smartphones amounted to 31.7 million units in 2020 compared to a mere 9.7 million a year before.

The figure is projected to jump to more than 52 million units this year.

Merck has been a trailblazer in the OLED and organic materials businesses since the company tapped into the segments midway through the 2000s.

It announced the investment of an additional 25 billion won ($22 million) to build a next-generation OLED materials manufacturing facility at the Poseung National Industrial Complex in Pyeongtaek, some 65 kilometers south of Seoul.

The investment will enable a new modular production system so that OLED materials production will go up, which Merck says will contribute to the development and reliable supply of materials for cutting-edge display panels.