SENIC typically works with 40-50 companies each year, some for a single process or measurement, and others with multi-year ongoing relationships. Below are a sample of these companies in four key application areas describing how SENIC has been able to help them in their research and development efforts.
- ClassOne Technology, Inc. uses SENIC (both IEN and JSNN) for equipment process qualification and validation. According to Byron Exarcos (CEO), “with the work conducted at SENIC, ClassOne has been able to win business at the world’s premier and most advanced fabs across the world for our Solstice automated plating system.”
- Mavric Semiconductor is an early stage start-up located in the ATDC incubator at Georgia Tech that is commercializing neuromorphic circuits developed at Georgia Tech for sensor processing. Tom Darbonne (President) indicates that “the facilities at IEN offer “in-house capabilities” which would not be cost attractive to a start-up to acquire or rent, but which can be cost and time-saving for projects under development. The combination of IEN training and tool access has proven to be a vital combination for our start-up.”
- Qorvo is a leader in RF solutions, providing filters, switches, power amplifiers, and other devices. “It is pretty crucial to stay ahead of the competition and be quick in testing things. IEN offers a variety of MEMS processing that we don’t have in house. These capabilities help us to speed up the test processes and end product development.”
- Georgia Tech start-up NextInput, which develops MEMS force sensors and was a long-time user of the IEN, has received $30 million in venture capital funding and has begun mass production for automotive and mobile touch panel applications.
- BNNano, Inc., with facilities in Burlington, NC, is currently the only company in the world for high volume manufacturing of Boron Nitride Nanotubes and NanoBarbs™ and uses JSNN characterization facilities for quality control and process verification. According to Steve Wilcenski (CEO), SENIC facility access saved them an estimated $100K in 2018.
- Florida based commercial licensing company, NXN-Licensing Inc., is involved in the development of electrochromic multi-color changing polymers technology and used IEN’s special project space from Sept. 2017 to Feb. 2019 in a collaboration with Prof. John Reynolds (Georgia Tech Chemistry and Biochemistry) for development of working demonstration prototypes. According to Lance Littell (Executive VP), NXN believes that IEN special project space is crucial to their success as they experience remarkable growth in their developmental efforts.
- Novelis, the world’s largest producer of flat rolled aluminum products, ships more than 3 million tons each year, with sales of $11.5 billion, and employs over 11,000 people in 11 countries. The Novelis Global Research and Technology Center (NGRTC), located just outside Atlanta, employs over 100 scientists, engineers, and technicians working on product and process innovations to meet customer needs and help develop future products for the beverage packaging, automotive, and specialty products industries, as well as on breakthrough science to explore new areas of interest. The IEN enables researchers at the NGRTC to explore new and innovative products with state of the art equipment and expertise.
- Matthews Marking Systems partners with IEN to support the development of innovative inkjet, laser and automation solutions for marking on packaging and industrial materials.
- Indian Wells Mining Co. is a small start-up mining company in the western US which has leased properties that have been core sampled showing promising amounts of precious metals including platinum and palladium. Samples have been sent to the facilities at IEN to help determine particle size and structure which help determine the most cost effective method of ore processing and metal extraction. The unique capabilities which IEN offers are especially needed by small start-ups with limited resources such as Indian Wells, which was unable to find any other source with tools such as the Ion Beam/SEM tool at affordable costs.
- Silpara Technologies LLC is an early stage start-up developing a molecular composite material that will be used to create next-generation truck and bus tires with improved fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The company values the access to high-resolution imaging capability for fundamental understanding of their materials. SENIC facilities, such as SEM, offer “in-house capabilities” which would not be cost attractive to a start-up to acquire or rent, but which can be cost and time-saving for projects under development. This tool access has been important for the start-up, and they expect to use the facilities even more next year under an anticipated NSF SBIR Phase II award.
- SBIR funding was awarded to JSNN facility users AxNano (slow release technology for remediation of contaminated water) and Kepley Biosystems (synthetic baits for aquaculture).
- OPTI Medical Systems is a medical device company located in Roswell, Georgia which uses patented optical fluorescence technology to measure gases, electrolytes, and metabolites in blood and has over 12,000 instruments placed all around the world in the veterinary and human diagnostics markets. The company’s R&D focuses on innovative next generation products and continuous improvements of existing products, and the facilities at IEN offer analytical techniques necessary for critical projects under study. IEN capabilities of interest have included FE-SEM and powder XRD to analyze the microporous structures of in-process polymer materials key to sensor performance.
- RCE Technologies is a med tech company started in 2018 that is addressing a gap in post heart attack care, causing an 18% hospital re-admission in the first 30 days. In their efforts towards outcome improvement in value based cardiovascular care, RCE has innovated and developed an ECG wearable and an optical based sensor device for non-invasive protein detection, coupled with AI models which can detect a heart attack within 7 minutes compared to 55 minutes in a clinical setting. RCE Technologies leverages IEN’s optical characterization equipment (FTIR and visible spectrometers) for some critical bio-photonic studies, but they also utilize IEN’s best assets, “the capable staff who are welcoming and always eager to help.”
- ResonanceDx, Inc. is an early stage medical diagnostic start-up coming from research conducted at Georgia Tech and Emory. The company is commercializing rapid, easy-to- use diagnostic tests based on antibody-antigen reactions that are quantified via wafer fabricated acoustic resonating sensors. The facilities at IEN have provided a very fast and cost-efficient facility for the company personnel to prototype sensor variations and optimize the technology. This resource is invaluable as typical prototype wafer runs from commercial prototyping foundries cost a minimum of $250,000 making wafer prototype optimization out of reach for an early-stage start-up company. Use of the IEN facility enabled this start-up to fabricate sensors used to generate preliminary data that has resulted in awarding of grants from both the NIH RADx and NIH RADx-NEXT SARS-CoVid-2 diagnostic grant program.
- Start-up company Alcorix does business with micro- and nanofabricated X-ray optics components, provides prototyping and consulting services, and is preparing to launch a series of brain-implant probes for neurotransmitter sensing. Due to the complexity of the devices, there is no single user-accessible facility able to host a full fabrication and integration process. Therefore, Alcorix is using a group of facilities both for on-site and remote services. The IEN facilities are valuable for their unique capabilities, such as a large variety of CVD processes, including the deposition of phosphorous silicon glass (PSG) of reliable and reproducible quality. These processes are central to the success of Alcorix’s products, and played a key role in developments within two SBIR/STTR grants from NSF and NIH.
- Start-up company QuSwami Inc is developing a new, solid state energy harvesting technology. This company conducts device fabrication research in the Georgia Tech IEN cleanroom. These development efforts utilize a number of tools provided by the IEN, including various thin film deposition, lithography, etch and metrology equipment. The IEN shared user facility is critical to cost effective development of the company’s device.
- Battery maker Sila Nanotechnologies, a former user of IEN facilities, has recently (2019) received a $170 million investment from Daimler to support development of automotive batteries.