RESEARCH FRONTIERS INCORPORATED DELIVERS SPD FILM EMULSION
ENABLING LARGE SCALE PRODUCTION OF SPD LIGHT CONTROL FILM
FOR SMART WINDOWS AND OTHER PRODUCTS
Smart Window Developer Takes Significant Step Towards Commercialization
WOODBURY, N.Y., December 17, 1998 -- Research Frontiers Incorporated (Nasdaq: REFR), a leading developer of "smart window" and light control technology, announced today that it has produced and delivered a multi-gallon quantity of its new SPD film-making emulsion to its licensee, Material Sciences Corp.(NYSE: MSC), the worlds second-largest supplier of specialty films for windows. Delivery of the scaled-up quantity of SPD film emulsion represents an important step towards bringing SPD technology to market.
Research Frontiers proprietary suspended particle device (SPD) technology permits light transmission to be electrically controlled instantly either automatically or by the user. SPD technology can be used in a variety of products including variable light transmission "smart" windows, variable light transmission goggles and other types of eyewear, self-dimmable automotive sunroofs, sun visors and rear-view mirrors, and bright, high contrast flat panel information displays that are easy to read at wide angles for use in computers and numerous other electronic instruments.
This quantity of emulsion is the largest that Research Frontiers has ever made before, and should permit MSC to produce thousands of square feet of SPD film at their San Diego, California plant. A key objective will be for MSC to produce attractive looking SPD film in large sizes using this emulsion with close to zero defects. The SPD film will also need to pass rigorous industry-standard durability testing prior to being offered for commercial sale. Assuming that these goals are met, based on numerous inquiries that Research Frontiers and its licensees have already received, Research Frontiers believes that a substantial market will develop for SPD film in many areas of the world.
SPD "smart windows" using SPD film will compete for a share of the estimated 20 billion square feet of flat glass produced worldwide each year, and also provide significant opportunities for the much larger retrofit market. SPD smart windows can provide controllable degrees of light transmission with little or no haze when activated. When used in conjunction with low-E glass which reflects heat and other commercially available materials, SPD smart windows will also block ultraviolet light and promote energy efficiency. This will not only save energy but will also reduce fading of rugs, pictures, furniture and other materials which are exposed to sunlight.
Robert L. Saxe, President of Research Frontiers, said "By making an extraordinary effort, our talented chemists have made it possible for Research Frontiers to deliver scaled-up quantities of SPD film emulsions on time this year. This marks the first time not only in Research Frontiers 33 year history, but also in the 66 years since Dr. Edwin Land of Polaroid Corp. invented the first SPD device, that scaled-up quantities of an SPD film have been available."
"During our scale-up efforts we have also greatly simplified our procedures for making particles and liquid suspensions, and have achieved other improvements in our SPD film-making materials which should dramatically reduce our licensees costs and enable the repeatable production of large quantities of our film-making polymers," Saxe noted. The SPD emulsion contains proprietary polymers and light-absorbing particles developed by Research Frontiers. For convenience, the components of the emulsion were delivered separately to MSC, and will be mixed by MSC to form the final emulsion, to permit maximum flexibility in tailoring the operating characteristics of SPD film. When cured using ultraviolet (UV) radiation, a method currently used on many film production lines, the emulsions will form a solid film containing millions of small droplets of liquid suspension which are encapsulated and distributed throughout the film. When voltage is applied, light-absorbing particles within each droplet can orient, thus making it easy to regulate the amount of light which passes through the film according to the amount of voltage applied.
The availability of SPD film-making emulsions on a large and consistently repeatable basis is important to facilitate the commercialization of products using SPD technology. Research Frontiers anticipates that in the future most of its film-making licensees will prefer to buy the emulsions from an outside supplier rather than make the emulsions themselves. Currently, three companies, MSC, Hankuk Glass Industries, Inc. and General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) are licensed to make SPD film and sell it to Research Frontiers other licensees. Hankuk Glass Industries, which recently was awarded the prestigious KT Award and Certification by the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology for Hankuks work on products using SPD technology, is the largest glass company in Korea. As mentioned above, MSC is the worlds second-largest producer of specialty film for windows. The availability of SPD film is also important to Research Frontiers other licensees and prospective licensees, many of whom are interested in purchasing SPD film in order to produce and sell products using SPD film. The Company believes that the availability of SPD film will make it easier for more companies to make and sell a variety of light control products using SPD film since these prospective licensees will no longer need the chemical or coating expertise to make film emulsions or coat these emulsions to produce SPD film.
Research Frontiers is a technological leader in the development and licensing of suspended particle devices -- electrically operated light control devices using proprietary particle suspensions. SPD technology permits light transmission to be electrically controlled instantly either automatically or by the user. Devices which can use SPD technology include variable light transmission "smart" windows, variable light transmission goggles and other types of eyewear, self-dimmable automotive sunroofs, sun visors and rear-view mirrors, and flat panel information displays for use in computers, television, telephones and other electronic instruments. Research Frontiers currently has agreements in effect covering smart windows, automotive mirrors and sun visors, eyewear, displays and other products with major international corporations and holds over 120 patents and patent applications on SPD technology throughout the world. Additional information on Research Frontiers can be found on the internet at http://www.refr-spd.com.
Note: From time to time the Company may issue forward looking statements which involve risks and uncertainties. This press release contains forward looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Actual results could differ and are not guaranteed. Any forward looking statements should be considered accordingly.
For Immediate Release
Robert L. Saxe, President
Patricia A. Bryant, Manager of Investor Relations
Research Frontiers Incorporated
212-696-2000 ext. 317