PORTLAND, Ore.-- As traditional semiconductor research and development (R&D) has been relegated to a few big players with billion-dollar budgets, Intermolecular Inc. (IMI, San Jose, Calif.) -- the R&D acceleration specialists -- has begun adding customers in higher-growth markets including clean energy and solid-state lighting (SSL). Recently, IMI announced its first big design win with an light-emitting-diode (LED) manufacturer -- Epistar, Corp. (Taiwan). Using new materials proven out in a pilot project, Epistar has already shaved two-years off its R&D timetable by virtue of IMI's High Productivity Combinatorial (HPC) technology platform. In return, Epistar will pay IMI royalties for future products using its newly developed LED materials and optimized process technology.
"Our HPC platform preforms R&D experimentation from 10-to-100 times faster than traditional methodologies," said David Lazovsky, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at IMI. "HPC accelerates time-to-market while creating intellectual property [IP] that our customers use as a sustainable competitive advantage."
The proof is in the pudding, and IMI has already delivered better materials, architectures and optimized manufacturing processes to a wide customer base including companies as diverse as Elpida, Guardian, Global Foundries, Micron, Sandisk, Toshiba and photovoltaics maker First Solar. Now with LED maker Epistar on-board, IMI aims to boost its business with the high-growth potential of SSL.
"Our pilot project with Epistar convinced them that we can deliver working prototypes of new devices in months instead of the years required for typical in-house R&D projects," said Sandeep Nijhawan, vice president and general manager at IMI. "In LEDs, the end-game is to reduce their cost per lumen, which means new materials and device architectures optimized for high-volume manufacturing, which is IMI's speciality."
"Intermolecular's High Productivity Combinatorial (HPC) platform—which allows R&D experimentation to be performed at speeds up to 100 times faster than conventional R&D platforms—consists of parallel and rapid-serial processing hardware; throughput-matched characterization; and automated analysis and reporting using web-based Informatics software." SOURCE: IMI
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IMI's deal calls for a collaborative development program (CDP) where Epistar will pay up-front for the necessary R&D efforts using IMI's HPC technology platform, followed by a royalty-bearing IP licensing agreement to increase the efficiency and reduce cost of LEDs manufactured with its optimized process technology.
Next on IMI's list of druthers are getting high-growth display manufacturers on-board with its HPC technology. IMI is currently courting top-tier display manufacturers and hopes to close an R&D and IP licensing deal with one soon.