Leverkusen, Germany - US-based Bayer MaterialScience llc has acquired Artificial Muscle Inc. (AMI) of Sunnyvale, California, which it says is a leader in electroactive polymers for the consumer electronics industry.
AMI's polymers are used in actuators and sensing components, and offer significant advantages over traditional technologies, said BMS. For touchscreen panels in consumer electronics, they give "awareness through touch by creating authentic tactile feedback, just like a conventional keyboard," the group added. BMS said this innovative technology has significant potential in electronic devices such as smartphones, gaming controllers and touchpads.
With AMI, Bayer MaterialScience gains a broad patent portfolio and patent applications, owned or exclusively licensed by the unit. BMS said this will allow it to offer films for many uses, and to speed up introduction of this technology to the market.
No details of the purchase price were revealed.
"This acquisition allows us to combine AMI's excellent technology with our existing expertise and gives us a leading position in electroactive polymers," said Patrick Thomas, chief executive officer, Bayer MaterialScience AG, in a 9 March company statement.
Dr Joachim Wolff, head of BMS' Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties business unit, added that the deal "allows us to expand in a new market sector. We invest heavily in R&D and this agreement further strengthens our position as a solution provider."
All AMI employees, including president and ceo Scott Metcalf, will remain with AMI following the acquisition. "This is an exciting milestone for our company, and we look forward to scaling our growth as part of Bayer MaterialScience," said Metcalf.
In Bayer AG's annual report for 2009, the BMS functional films unit describes various used of electrically active polyurethane films, including a novel project in which use of rolled up polyurethane films as electrically active polymers to generate electricity from wave power is being investigated.
And for functional films which can replace complex electronic components made of many parts, which are labour-intensive to assemble, the report notes that the market for such components was worth $650 million in 2005 and is predicted to reach $100 000 million by 2020, and $250 000 million in 2025 (figures from market research group IDTechEx).