Thursday, October 30, 2008

Harvard spinout licenses "black silicon" patents

by Dylan McGrath, EE Times, (10/13/2008 3:09 PM EDT) SAN FRANCISO - Startup SiOnyx Inc. has licensed a portfolio of shallow junction photonics patents from Harvard University in exchange for an unspecified equity stake and downstream royalties. The patents cover a laser implant technique said to alter alters the photonic properties of semiconductors. This technology, known as "black silicon," was discovered by Harvard's Eric Mazur, a professor of physics and applied physics. Mazur co-founded SiOnyx (Beverly, Mass.) in 2006. According to a joint statement issued by SiOnyx and Harvard's Office of Technology Development Monday (Oct. 13), black silicon is a material that absorbs nearly twice the visible light of regular silicon and detects infrared light that is normally invisible to silicon based devices. This capability that allows for performance enhancements in applications ranging from simple light detection to advanced digital imaging and solar energy, according to the statement. SiOnyx said it is is producing devices for scalable platform for hyper-spectral imaging. The SiOnyx implant is compatible with established semiconductor manufacturing processes and introduces no new material, according to the company. SiOnyx has a patented process that employs femtosecond laser processing of the target material resulting in an extremely thin (300nm) photoconduction layer applicable to both biased (detection) and photovoltaic (power generation) applications, the company said. "Black silicon addresses the fundamental pain point in all photonics systems, the sensitivity to light," said Stephen Saylor, SiOnyx president and CEO. "By demonstrating that the black silicon process cost effectively scales within the established semiconductor device manufacturing infrastructure, SiOnyx is poised to transform the $10B+ light detection, imaging and photovoltaic markets by offering device manufactures a path to smaller, lighter and more efficient photonic systems." SiOnyx recently raised $11 million in funding from Harris & Harris, Polaris Venture Partners and RedShift Ventures. Copyright © 2008 TechInsights, a Division of United Business Media LLC All rights reserved