The innovation rate (this refers to revenues from products that are less than three years old) held steady at more than 20%. "Innovations are the engine driving our business and an important pillar of our growth strategy. They should open new market segments and generate new technologies for our companies," said Dr. Frank Heinricht, Vice Chairman of the Board of Management of Heraeus Holding GmbH, underscoring the Group's innovation strategy at the press briefing on the 2007 annual results.
A number of factors contribute to the successful development of new products and innovations. For example, research and development at Heraeus is not concentrated in a central location. "Given our broad product portfolio and the variety of industrial markets we supply, it only makes sense to decentralize our R&D. This keeps each business segment close to its markets as it generates new products and solutions to meet its customers' needs," Dr. Heinricht noted. International and interdisciplinary cooperative ventures and partnerships with universities and research institutes, such as Northeastern University in Shenyang, China, help Heraeus discover new ideas and meet country-specific customer requirements.
Close cooperation with customers moves innovations forward
Long-term cooperation with customers paves the way for new products. "A good example is our work with the optics company Carl Zeiss SMT," Heinricht pointed out. "Built on a strong foundation of trust, our customer-supplier relationship promotes innovative developments in microlithography. As a certified Carl Zeiss SMT Supply Chain Partner, we work closely with Carl Zeiss to continually improve the optical properties and qualities of synthetic quartz glass." The latest innovation in this field is a durable, self-repairing generation of quartz glass for microlithography lens systems used in manufacturing microchips. In its lifetime as a wafer in stepper optics, for example, fused silica must withstand more than 200 billion laser pulses without damage. Suprasil® 501 meets these specifications. The reason: Hydrogen molecules present in the glass can repair laser-induced defect centers that would otherwise degrade its outstanding optical properties.
As a market and technology leader with core competences in precious metals, temperature sensors, dental and medical products, quartz glass, and specialty infrared and ultraviolet lighting sources, Heraeus focuses its development programs on new growth markets, such as health/medical technology, communications, and the environment—and it aims to generate new services as well as innovative products. In the dental industry, dental prosthesis increasingly depends on CAD/CAM technology. With its new state-of-the-art CAD/CAM production center in Hanau, Heraeus offers a complete line of services for dental technologists. Crowns, bridges, dental implants and more, made of ceramics such as zirconium dioxide, can be manufactured on an individual and just-in-time basis. The market is growing by leaps and bounds. "With the latest technology and a well-thought-out overall process, Heraeus broke this market wide open," said Dr. Heinricht.
Innovations for the environment and photovoltaics
Since 1916, Heraeus has manufactured catalysts that are industry classics—platinum and platinum-alloy gauzes, as much as six meters in diameter, used in the combustion of ammonia to produce nitric acid. Their catalytic effect has been steadily improved in recent decades. Now, an innovative combination of these gauzes with a secondary catalyst made of ceramic carriers charged with precious metals has contributed significantly to environmental protection. One byproduct of ammonia combustion is nitrous oxide—a gas with 310 times the atmospheric greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. The new catalyst system destroys as much as 90% of the nitrous oxide.
The environmentally friendly photovoltaics market is booming these days. Numerous Heraeus products, from infrared emitters to sputtering targets, play a part in the production of solar cells. These are now made primarily of silicon-based wafer modules. An alternative concept uses thin-layer modules that are 100 times thinner than crystalline solar cells made of silicon wafers. For both concepts, Heraeus develops products used for coatings, integrated circuits and heat technology. In addition to sputtering targets, these include silver-containing pastes that allow the solar current to flow from the silicon cells with minimal shading loss. Infrared heat is also used in the production of solar cells, as coatings are applied to the carrier materials in a vacuum at high temperatures. Heraeus has developed new emitters for the photovoltaics industry, with a reflector of opaque quartz glass that can be used to stabilize and optimize heating processes used in the manufacture of solar cells.
Heraeus, the precious metals and technology group headquartered in Hanau, Germany, is a global, private company with over 155 years of tradition. Our businesses include precious metals, sensors, dental and medical products, quartz glass, and specialty lighting sources. With product revenues of € 3 billion and precious metal trading revenues of € 9 billion, as well as over 11,000 employees in more than 100 companies worldwide, Heraeus holds a leading position in its global markets.
For further information please contact:Heraeus Holding GmbH
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