The German group Merck, which operates in pharma, biotech and materials, announced on June 29, 2015, its acquisition of Jerusalem-based Qlight Nanotech. Qlight is a nanotechnology company that has developed a nanocrystal that converts light frequencies to other frequencies with a minimum loss of energy, thereby improving liquid crystal display (LCD) screens and LED lighting. 

DRG_6325_c DOUGLAS GUTHRIEQlight was founded in 2009 on the basis of technology developed in Professor Uri Banin’s laboratory at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and commercialized by Yissum Technology Transfer Company of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Merck associated with Qlight from the beginning and Merck’s chemical division already produces the materials on which high-end LCD screens are based. The first cooperation between the companies was in development of a new and improved screen using Qlight’s nanocrystals, cooperation that included financial support for research in return for marketing rights to the final product.

Satisfied with the result, Merck also signed a cooperation agreement for “warm” LED lighting technology. In this case, Qight was to have been the distributor, with Merck receiving royalties in exchange for financing the research. Merck invested a total of €1 million in the two projects.

Merck added to its investment in the company in 2013, apparently investing a further few million dollars, thereby increasing its stake in Qlight to 50%. The product currently closest to market is designed to improve LCD screens, while the two other products – warm LED lighting and completely new screens that do not require LCD crystals – will take a few more years to reach the market. All these products will now be fully owned by Merck.

Professor Banin is the incumbent of the Alfred & Erica Larisch Memorial Chair at  the Institute of Chemistry and was the founding director of the Harvey M. Krueger Family Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.  In 2014, Qlight Nanotech won the Best Nanotechnology Company of the Year Award at the NanoIsrael 2014 conference. 

Learn more about Qlight’s  display technology below.