The Rotary Traveling Wave technology was the brainchild of MultiGig Inc. founder and chief technology officer John Wood, a self-taught inventor and son of an inventor who developed a method for self-aligning installed underground water pipes. In a company filled with PhDs, Wood is the only employee without a college degree.
Wood earned millions from a patent on his technique for flash-welding plastic materials. His passion for technology drives him to order textbooks by the dozen when pursuing a new subject, sometimes noting their errors in scribbled notes in the margins, said MultiGig COO Haris Basit. "I've worked at research labs including Yorktown Heights and Bell Labs, and John is clearly a cut above," Basit said.
In the late 1990s, Wood was researching high-speed serial I/O using traditional ring and crystal oscillators. "As I started to explore alternatives, the first thing I looked at was transmission lines," he said.
An initial prototype, using coaxial cables, was "not very exciting." Then Christmas 1998 brought an epiphany. "My son had just gotten a car racing game with a crossover on a single track. That gave me the idea for arranging the transmission line that way," said Wood.
After a few more months of work, Wood decided to use arrays of loops to create an approach that could work independently of any frequency or process technology.
"It took a year or two until we could find direct commercial applications. Before that, I was just working on it as a hobby," said Wood. "But the more we looked at clock distribution, the more we realized this could be useful."