Merck, a science and technology company, announced that Susumu Kitagawa, Professor at the Institute for Integrated Cell–Material Sciences at Kyoto University, Japan, has been named the sixteenth recipient of the Emanuel Merck Lectureship. He is being recognized for his pioneering scientific work in the field of metal organic frameworks (MOFs). His fundamental contributions to the development of this innovative class of nanoporous materials could lead to new ways of capturing, storing and releasing gases. Broadly speaking, MOFs could contribute to improving the state of our planet by helping to fight climate change.
“I am thankful for the honor bestowed upon me today for my work as a scientist,” said Kitagawa on receiving the news about this distinction. “My big dream is to synthesize very important chemicals such as amino acids directly from an ubiquitous element: air. When you think of it, all the elements are right there: oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, but also hydrogen in moisture. I’m not sure I will actually be able to achieve that, but I can encourage young researchers in this direction.”
“We are honoring an outstanding scientist whose contribution to mankind might not be visible to everyone now, but will be sooner or later,” said Klaus Griesar, Head of Science Relations at Merck. “This science prize not only serves to promote scientific exchange with internationally recognized researchers, but it also provides insights into front-line scientific research. It fits in well with Merck as a science and technology company and complements chemical research at the Technische Universität Darmstadt.”
The Emanuel Merck Lectureship was jointly established by Merck and the Technische Universität Darmstadt in 1992. It recognizes globally renowned scientists who have made superb contributions to chemical and pharmaceutical research. From 1993 to the present day, the award has been granted to 16 eminent scientists from all over the world. The prize, worth € 30,000, was presented to Kitagawa on May 13, 2019 during a public lecture at the Hörsaal- und Medienzentrum at the Lichtwiese campus of TU Darmstadt. At 5 p.m., the prize winner was hold a lecture entitled “Welcome to Small Spaces – Chemistry and Application of Porous Coordination Polymers /Metal-Organic Frameworks”.
Kitagawa’s development of nanoporous materials could lead to new ways of capturing, storing and releasing gases like in a cage with bars so small as to lock gas molecules inside it. In essence, metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are such cages. They combine metallic knots and organic ligands that hold them together. By combining different types of metals and ligands, the size and shapes of the pores can be controlled, which means MOFs can be used to capture or release gases on a molecular scale.
The potential applications are very wide, but certain fields are already quite promising, such as gas storage (typically for methane, hydrogen or CO2 ), gas separation (which would be useful in the field of air quality, for capturing harmful molecules for example), gas transformation – using the catalytic properties of MOFs – as well as for making high-sensitivity gas sensors. Capturing and re-using gases in these cages could help develop clean technologies to tackle climate change and open up new possibilities in energy storage.
Apart from the Emanuel Merck Lectureship, Merck honors science and scientist with many other awards. The latest addition to this is the Future Insight Prize, which was announced in July 2018 and will be awarded for the first time in July 2019. Merck aims to give up to € 1 billion annually for the next 35 years to incentivize people whose work has enabled significant progress towards making this vision a reality by discovering new ground-breaking science or by developing enabling technologies. This year’s prize will be granted for a visionary product to protect humanity from a new pandemic threat.
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Virtual Annual General Meeting planned for June
Due to the spread of the coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2), Bilfinger is planning to conduct its regular Annual General Meeting on June 24, 2020 as a virtual general meeting without the physical presence of shareholders. The protection of the health of employees, shareholders and service providers is given the highest priority.
The framework for holding a virtual Annual General Meeting is provided for by the regulations created by the German legislator for the year 2020 to mitigate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Annual General Meeting shall only be accessible to shareholders who have registered in due time via the company’s website. By using a previously established online portal, these shareholders shall be able to observe the entire Annual General Meeting and to exercise their voting rights electronically (postal vote) or by granting a proxy. The online portal will in addition enable them to submit questions on agenda items up to two days prior to the Annual General Meeting.
Merck, a science and technology company, announced that it acquired the Oled patent portfolio for display applications from Konica Minolta Inc., a global technology company that provides innovative solutions to businesses and society. The acquired portfolio comprises over 700 patent families.
“Adding Konica Minolta’s patents to our already strong portfolio will further boost our Oled development pipeline”, said Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Performance Materials. “With this step we will further strengthen our power to drive innovations in the fast-growing market of Oled displays.”
For more than 15 years, Merck has conducted research and development in the Oled technology field, and, as a result, became one of the leading Oled material suppliers.
The acquisition of Konica Minolta’s Oled patents for display applications is effective immediately. Financial terms were not disclosed.
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Bilfinger to become a DFKI shareholder
Bilfinger, through its subsidiary Bilfinger Digital Next, is joining the group of shareholders of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). The DFKI is an industry-focused research institute in the field of innovative software technologies incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and is considered one of the most important “Centers of Excellence” in the international scientific community. The purpose of the stake is to develop innovative solutions based on AI for the process industry. Bilfinger is the first industrial services provider in the DFKI shareholder group, which also includes companies like Google, Microsoft and SAP. Franz Braun, CEO of Bilfinger Digital Next: “Artificial intelligence technologies give companies in the process industry groundbreaking new opportunities to manage and maintain their plants with a greater degree of efficiency and effectiveness. Plant operators can generate substantial competitive advantages using AI. We want to demonstrate these possibilities to our customers and support them with future-oriented solutions based on the broad range of advantages delivered by artificial intelligence”.
Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger, CEO and Chairman of the DFKI Management Board: “We are pleased to be taking the next step towards a lasting partnership on the basis of the success we have enjoyed in our joint project work to date. Bilfinger’s commitment attests to our cooperation and underscores the industrial relevance of the work DFKI researchers are doing. DFKI’s circle of shareholders will be strengthened by the addition of an ambitious industrial services provider, with whom we plan to continue implementing the results of AI research into products and solutions for the process industry”.
Bilfinger has been collaborating successfully with the DFKI for some time on the development of digital solutions for the process industry. Joint developments that have been launched on the market include PIDGraph, a software for the digitalization of plant documentation. Through the application of AI methods, the software is able to digitalize piping and instrument flow diagrams (P&I diagrams) that are only available in paper or PDF formats. The symbols, texts and lines of the diagrams are converted into a digital format with the help of neural networks trained to recognize patterns. The software records the corrections made by the user and thus continuously improves itself. The digital formats created by PIDGraph can be processed by any modern engineering and asset management system, thereby forming the basis for creating “digital twins” of industrial plants, for example. The digitalization of P&I diagrams is not only significantly cheaper with PIDGraph, but also much faster than conventional methods.
“The AI algorithms recognize the complex elements in the plant diagrams, analyze them, assign them semantically, making them readable for the computer. PIDGraph shows how mature AI methods can comprehend complex corporate knowledge and make it available for digital use,” says Prof. Dr. Andreas Dengel, who started the cooperation with Bilfinger and leads the research area Smart Data & Knowledge Services at the DFKI.