Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) and AlphaMicron Inc. (AMI) will collaborate on a liquid crystal (LC) light control film venture. AMI of Kent, OH in the U.S., is engaged in the research and development of high-tech LC applications.
The LC light control film uses dichroic dye and LC to instantaneously change the contrast of the film and control permeating light via the switching of an electrical charge. Dichroic dye is a type of dye that appears to be colored when viewed from one direction, as a result of being dispersed through an anisotropic medium, and virtually colorless when viewed from another direction perpendicular to the first. In addition to facilitating the expression of a variety of colors, collaboration between the partners will also make it possible to apply the newly developed product over large areas, such as the sun roofs used in automobiles. Marketing activities will commence from the end of FY 2017.
Light control systems are being commercialized in a variety of formats as blinds and partitions in answer to the desire to enjoy living spaces by freely controlling light. While light control systems are expected to see increased use in the future, at present they face a number of challenges, depending on the format, including slow response time in color switching, the fact that color tones are restricted to dark gray and cream, and the need for significant power consumption.
The LC light control film developed as a result of the collaboration between DNP and AMI displays the following features;
- The realization of a low power 8-20V system for use when switching contrast.
- It is possible to control the brightness of the color tone by changing the power.
- The response time of the light control when charged is less than one second, allowing for instantaneous switching of color contrast. As a result, the new product is suitable for a variety of uses such as the sun roofs and the rear windows used in automobiles, where rapid switching is necessary.
- Depending on the type of dye molecules, it is possible to freely design the color tones.
The partners aim to establish volume production technologies for large area uses by combining the AMI original LC host and dichroic dye guest materials that form LC light control film materials, with the precision coating technologies of DNP. Marketing activities, targeting the global market, will commence from the end of FY 2017.
DNP will contribute to the spread of light control systems through the application of these technologies, aiming for sales of 2.0 billion yen in FY2020. This will be achieved through the manufacture and marketing of the newly developed product to a variety of markets, including construction, housing and offices. Applications will also be created for in-vehicle mirrors, sun visors, helmet visors, and the sun roofs used in automobiles that cover larger areas.