Within our Electronics business sector, we are one of the leading players in most of our markets. As a science and technology company, we offer leading-edge products, services, and solutions that, in many cases, set us apart from the competition. Our business units are developing advanced materials for next-generation electronics. Our Chief Technology Office (CTO) is identifying trends and vetting technologies that are beyond the time horizon or scope of our business units. As a dedicated technology organization, the CTO is managing research partnerships, shaping our technology roadmaps, and managing our long-term R&D portfolio. We have also created a Technology Leadership Board to review and optimize our technology investment across the business sector. As an essential part of our Level Up growth program, we are investing significantly more than € 3 billion in innovation and capacity until the end of 2025. With these investments, we are also scaling up our research and development capabilities for next-generation semiconductor and display materials to further expand our position as a leading supplier to the electronics industry.
We are addressing our customers’ critical material needs through every step of the wafer manufacturing process. The outstanding capabilities and competencies of the businesses are diverse and will enable us to bring game-changing innovations for our customers into the market faster.
Our Thin Film Solutions business achieved significant progress in advancing critical PORs (Process of Record) and BKMs (Best Known Methods) for both logic and memory devices, by closely partnering with customers and OEMs: we continue to develop innovative solutions for Silicon containing films to address increasingly challenging problems, make progress in developing high-purity metal-containing precursor offerings enabled by newly engineered container delivery systems, and focus on developing new spin-on dielectric materials with improved gap fill and film characteristics for the most advanced semiconductor devices.
With our Specialty Gases, we continue to make progress with our new etch gas technology program, to develop new chemistries to enable more than 100-layer, single-stack etching for advanced memory devices such as V-NAND. We are also seeing good progress in our etch gas development work for new low-GWP (global warming potential) gases. In August 2022, we announced that we are joining forces with Micron, one of the largest semiconductor companies in the world, to develop low-GWP gas solutions used in the production of semiconductors.
Our Patterning Solutions business continues to heavily invest in pattern transfer technologies for advanced nodes. The proliferation of extreme ultraviolet lithography is gaining momentum in the industry, and our R&D programs for pattern collapse, underlayer, directed self-assembly (DSA) and image rectification are showing excellent progress with key customers. We have engaged in multiple joint development agreements with leading customers and are winning processes of record (PORs) for use of these advanced materials in high-volume chip manufacturing. We have embarked on a cross-business field program to drive the implementation of organometallic compounds into the photolithography segment. We are seeing strong interactions in hard masks and resist development with leading Asian customers leading to improved performance. As the need for heterogeneous integration drives advanced wafer packaging technologies, innovation in conventional lithography materials and formulated wet cleans is required. We are collaborating with leading companies to support this innovation and have won a new POR supporting hybrid bonding processes.
Our Planarization business is driving new product development across advanced oxide and metal segments by capitalizing on the proximity of our R&D lab to our leading customers in Asia and the United States. We are also leveraging data analytics in product development and quality control to speed up time to market for our customers while providing more predictive in-use performance for our customers. More recently, our Planarization Business focused on introducing industry-leading dielectric and tungsten slurries used in advanced node DRAM (Dynamic random-access memory) and NAND (flash memory named for the NAND logic gate) applications. Also, the team has introduced new copper and copper barrier slurries in collaboration with key foundry and logic customers to enable advanced node logic, analog and multi-layer packaging applications.
Our Silicon Valley-based material innovation accelerator Intermolecular saw an increase in the amount of work done in its labs for quantum computing and neuromorphic computing companies. These companies benefit from the flexible device processing infrastructure and deep materials knowledge to quickly achieve tangible products in these emerging technology areas. For more than 15 years, Intermolecular has been exploring, testing, and developing advanced materials that are revolutionizing the next generation of electronics.
Our display materials are enabling the fast-growing market of innovative displays for current and future applications such as foldable smartphones, rollable TVs, or AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) devices. With liviFlex™-H, we are providing passivation solutions as protective film to free-form OLED display and are running customer qualifications at this moment. Furthermore, we are active in the development of innovative material solutions in close cooperation with customers and partners for next-generation displays, for example micro-LEDs, low k TFE (Thin Film Encapsulation), and AR/VR displays.
Our liquid crystal technology ultra-brightness fringe-field switching (UB-FFS) continues its successful growth, thanks to new product qualifications and rising demand in the liquid crystal displays (LCD) sector for mobile devices, especially mobile phones, tablet PCs and notebooks. The development of high-resolution 4K and 8K TV sets continues to pose a challenge, as the LCD backlight transmission and efficiency will be reduced due to higher pixel density. We are therefore actively working to expand our ultra-bright (UB) technology offering with our UBplus liquid crystal materials for the TV market. We are also introducing new mode Chiral-polymer stabilized vertical alignment (C-PS-VA) to boost up the transmittance of PS-VA technology. With such technologies, we increase the light transmission efficiency of applications for large-format TV sets and display panels by 10% to 15%. This contributes hugely to the reduction of power consumption and helps our customers and consumers to meet sustainability targets.
Deuteration is another key technology we are working on to realize next-generation OLED. Deuterated materials have the potential to more than double the lifetime of OLED stacks without compromising on efficiency and voltage. In general, we observe increased lifetime with higher deuteration degrees of the material. We are working with our customers to enable lifetime enhancement, focused on high purity, responsible consumption of raw materials and supply and process robustness.
Our LC-based technology licriOn™ enables extensive connectivity access, even in remote areas where fast internet connections are unavailable or unaffordable today. As part of our open innovation campaign, we completed the Ferroelectric Nematic Liquid Crystals (FNLCs) research challenge. These materials show very unique properties which could enable new, exciting applications like actuators, energy harvesting, memory, capacitors and supercapacitors. More than 50 researchers around the world submitted application ideas for this fascinating new material already predicted 100 years ago, but only recently were researchers able to confirm their existence – a discovery which doesn’t happen all too often.
In our Surface Solutions business, we focus on the empowerment of our customers to create surfaces that do what they need them to do – and look exactly the way they expect them to look. Thus, together with our customers, we not only develop product innovations but place more and more focus on new application technologies and process excellence to provide customized solutions for the individual challenges of our clients.
In our automotive pigments business, our pipeline consists of three pillars: product development, application engineering and effect visualization. We are actively working on the extension of our portfolio of Colorstream® multicolor-effect pigments with outstanding saturation in the bluish red color space as an ideal complementation of the existing Colorstream® Lava Red. We will also add a fine light silver Iriodin® pigment to our metallic stylings, offering a unique brightness and opacity.
With the development of a highly-viscous Durazane® polymer, we will extend the application field of anti-scratch and easy-to-clean coatings towards thicker films. With the development of a novel Durazane® formulation, we constantly extend the application field of durable anti-scratch, anti-graffiti and easy-to-clean coatings.
In addition, we push the boundaries of science and technology to lead our customers on the path to digitization of color evaluation processes. That is why we are implementing a digital setup that allows us to produce highly reliable color data as additional service for our customers.
In our Cosmetics business, we continue to put sustainability at the center of our efforts by focusing more and more on natural materials in our portfolio. Therefore, we will introduce additional cosmetic active materials from botanical sources with unique efficacy addressing anti-aging and anti-inflammatory claims. We also considered sustainability in the development of the first range of metal-free metal-look pigments for unique cosmetic effects based on proprietary and novel technology of pigment particle coating.
By broadening our portfolio of inorganic UV filters with two new products based on zinc oxide (ZnO2), we will strengthen our position as one of the leading UV experts for light protection and tanning.
With the market introduction of additional specialty products for high-security applications, we will also extend our Securalic® portfolio offering our customers more reliable and highly discreet counterfeit detection.
* The contents of this chapter or section are voluntary and therefore not audited. However, our auditor has read the text critically.