Within our Performance Materials business sector, we are a market and technology leader in most of our industries. As a science and technology company, we offer leading-edge products and solutions that, in many cases, set us apart from the competition. We integrated our supply chain units into the respective business units to fully reflect business accountability in the organizational design across the entire supply chain. In order to bring our R&D closer to our businesses and reflect our new organizational structure, we transferred our research activities to our business units. Our Chief Technology Office (CTO) focuses on 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.
In September, we opened a new Research Center for electronic applications in Darmstadt, Germany. With this investment we are scaling up our research & development capabilities for next-generation display and semiconductor materials to further expand our position a as leading supplier to the electronics industry. In October, we announced a € 20 million investment to expand OLED manufacturing capacities in South Korea and China. In November we also announced our plans to build a new Electronics Technology Center in Shanghai, China, which will focus on semiconductor and OLED materials.
To better support our customers, in late August, we made significant investments in developing advanced analytical and container capabilities in Kaohsiung, Taiwan to continually drive quality enhancement. The facility is in close proximity to many of our Taiwanese customers and aims to provide local collaboration support and faster time to market.
Our Planarization business continues to make significant progress in new product development in memory and logic across both slurry and cleans products. To better support our customers, in late June, we inaugurated a new R&D center in Korea to develop next-generation chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) materials. Since the opening, our team has been able to support several demos with key Korean customers, which is critical to enable rapid local collaboration.
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.
In Semiconductor Materials, our Thin Film Solutions business achieved significant progress in advancing critical PORs (Process of Record) for new organosilanes for conformal high-performance atomic layer deposition (ALD) and progressed our plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) for low dielectric constant applications. We also continue to make progress in developing high-purity metal-containing precursor offerings enabled by new engineered container delivery systems. We continue to focus on developing new spin-on dielectric formulations for processes with improved dielectric characteristics for faster and better logic and memory devices.
With our Specialty Gases we continue to make progress with our new etch gas technology program, which is focused on advancing the development of new chemistries to enable more than 100-layer single-stack etching for advanced memory devices such as V-NAND. We continue to see significant performance in new POR wins across our existing portfolio and new product introductions.
Our material innovation accelerator Intermolecular saw an increase in the amount of work done in their 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. Intermolecular is a trusted partner for materials innovation and is our Silicon Valley science hub. For more than 15 years, Intermolecular has being exploring, testing, and developing advanced materials that are revolutionizing the next generation of electronics.
Delivery Systems & Services (DS&S) develops, deploys, and operates equipment that enables safe and reliable delivery of hazardous materials in the manufacturing process of our customers. The unit is in the process of increasing its manufacturing capacity to meet the growing demand in memory and foundry, and we commenced a project to manufacture our second CHEMGUARD product line, BCD100 and 200, state-of-the-art bulk chemical delivery systems. We also released our CHEMGUARD CG600 model for bulk Tetrakis(dimethylamino)titanium (TDMAT) delivery. This product extends our prior TDMAT technology to remote, bulk supply to support our customers’ ever-increasing flow rate and uptime requirements of advanced nodes. The first container changes were successfully completed and executed much faster than anticipated, reducing container change time significantly.
DS&S has successfully applied its GASGUARD Active Control technology to low vapor pressure compressed gases. Originally, it was developed to maintain, repeat and stabilize pressure for high vapor pressure gases under varying manufacturing conditions and with zero pressure drift. GASGUARD Active Control now allows semiconductor fabs to achieve much greater precision in controlling the pressure of low vapor pressure compressed gases, such as WF6 and others.
This technology and all DS&S equipment are operated and maintained by our MEGASYS® Total Gas and Chemical Services at many of our customer sites. As part of a global operations infrastructure, we are a premier supplier of semiconductor fab and subfab services to the worldwide electronics industry.
In our Display Solutions business unit, our liquid crystal technology UB-FFS (ultra-brightness fringe-field switching) 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 and tablet PCs. 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. With such technologies, we increase the light transmission efficiency of applications for large-format TV sets and display panels by 10% to 15%.
Our VA (vertical alignment) liquid crystal platform including PS-VA (polymer-stabilized vertical alignment) technology remains predominant when it comes to large-format TV sets. Here, our latest materials provide additional performance benefits and improve processing efficiency in the production of TV sets. Moreover, we have successfully demonstrated our manufacturing expertise with respect to the new liquid crystal technology SA-VA (self-aligned vertical alignment). We are now focusing our attention on applications for specialized display products from the premium segment through to TV applications produced in large numbers, as this technology offers the high contrast and image quality of the PS-VA technology while also enabling improvements in display design and panel production, for example through the reduction of waste and energy consumption in the production of LCDs.
Our display materials are contributing to the fast-growing market of free-form displays, which includes foldable smartphones and rollable TVs. We further strengthened our ability to drive innovations in the fast-growing OLED market by acquiring OLED patents from Konica Minolta in April. Additional sublimation units will be built at our sites in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, and Shanghai to help meet customer demand in the growing OLED market. The investment will further increase our local OLED production footprint in Korea and establish OLED production capacity in China. In late November, we announced partnership agreements with Optitune Oy and Solip Tech Co., Ltd. to advance display patterning materials for free-form applications. The partnerships will enable the commercialization of liviFlex™-H, the first product from the company’s new range of display materials that addresses challenges in the manufacturing of free-form OLED displays.
In our Cosmetics business, we are putting sustainability at the center of our efforts by more and more focusing on natural materials in our portfolio of active ingredients. For example, we will add to our offerings through the launch of a series of cosmetic applications containing four superfood extracts, which are backed by in-house scientific efficacy studies. Another new development will offer our customers an attractive portfolio of algae extracts that unlock the power of the ocean for the skin, together with RonaCare® RenouMer. Furthermore, we are tapping into the potential of the haircare market with the launch of a series of third-party products enabling the formulation of multi-tasking haircare products. Our well-established Functional Fillers portfolio RonaFlair® will be extended by a new ingredient combining two features, soft focus effect and transparency. RonaFlair® Infinity will address market needs like flawless skin without a masking effect.
In our automotive pigments business, we continue to focus on developing achromatic pigments. The latest example is Xirallic NXT Amur Black, a blue-black effect pigment with a silky-silvery fine texture including Living Sparkle®. In our pipeline, we address the special requirements that radar and lidar sensor applications have for coating pigments. Another key topic in our development is fueled by the evolution of autonomous driving.
* The contents of this chapter or section are voluntary and therefore not audited. However, our auditor has read the text critically.