BASF has set up an R&D center in Korea to work on semiconductor and display products for flexible devices. The company is planning to come up with first-generation flexible semiconductors mounted on electronic paper displays (EPDs) used in smart watches.
The R&D center for electronic material research is scheduled to open soon in Suwon City. Stefan Becker, who will lead the research facility, said on Sept. 3 at his press conference in Seoul that the first outcome of flexible semiconductors will be materials used in panel backplanes such as EPDs. “Still, the commercialization of semiconductors and OLED for flexible displays will take a long period of time of at least several years, because other components like batteries also have to be flexible,” he continued, adding, “We are already cooperating closely with Korean companies for flexible semiconductor and OLED material development, and the new R&D will add speed to the collaboration.”
Before the establishment of the research institute, BASF invested tens of millions of euros to bring in high-tech equipment for semiconductor and display manufacturing and organized a research team of 40 or so members. The team is going to focus on advanced solutions for semiconductor manufacturing processes, OLEDs for displays and lighting, and soft printed electronics. Boris Jenniches, vice president of BASF’s Asia-Pacific Electronic Materials Division, mentioned the possibility of additional investment in the near future during the interview. “We have relocated our regional electronic material business headquarters to Korea before the opening of the R&D center, because we put a premium on the Korean market.”
BASF is currently running six production facilities and five tech centers in Korea. It built an ultrason manufacturing plant in January in Yeosu City, South Jeolla Province. Its investment in Korea for the past two years has reached 200 billion won (US$196 million).
BASF Korea, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, recorded total sales of 2.7 trillion won (US$2.65 billion) in 2013, 1.2 trillion won (US$1.18 billion) of which was from exports.