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Merck KGaA and the Technical University of Darmstadt (TU Darmstadt) signed an agreement today to establish a jointly operated research laboratory. Over the next five years, Merck and the TU Darmstadt will research novel inorganic composite materials that could be suitable for use as printable components in high-performance electronic applications. The initial area of focus has already been identified: printable radio frequency chips based on inorganic materials used in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology are to be developed to series production.
A “Merck Lab,” initially to be staffed by about 10 people, reportedly will be set up for this purpose in the Chemicals Department of the Technical University of Darmstadt at the Lichtwiese Campus in Darmstadt. University scientists from many disciplines, including materials science, macromolecular and inorganic chemistry, printing machinery and processes, as well as microelectronic-systems experts, are participating in the joint project. “The alliance with the TU Darmstadt in high-tech applications of RFID chips is another strong example of how the chemicals business of Merck is developing new products for future market requirements through intelligent alliances with competent partners,” explained Michael Roemer, Ph.D., chairman of the executive board of Merck KGaA, in a press statement.
The immediate objective of Merck and the TU University is the development of RFID chips, which are considered to be a future technology that could replace conventional barcodes on merchandise. The technology is based on an integrated circuit plus antenna, which, like the barcode, is incorporate in the product as a type of radio label that stores a variety of product information, e.g. price, sell-by date, or manufacturer data. This is the basis for automatically tracking product movements more intelligently, quickly and efficiently.