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Smoltek was founded. The name can be read as “Shafiq’s Molecular Technological Company.” Shafiq’s last name is Kabir. He founded the company while finishing and defending his Ph.D. thesis at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Shafiq Kabir’s research aimed to manufacture carbon nanofibers to a specific diameter and length, place them with extreme precision, and do so at a temperature that does not damage the substrate. In the same year, Smoltek applied for its first patent.
Smoltek achieved selective growth of carbon nanofibers on silicon substrates.
Smoltek recruited Dr. Vincent Desmaris as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). He boosted our development activities at the MC2 laboratory at the Chalmers University of Technology.
We reached a significant milestone. We successfully grew carbon nanofibers on ASIC-chips. (ASIC is an integrated circuit customized for a particular use, rather than for general purpose use.) We also recruited Anders Johansson as CEO of the company.
Another milestone is reached. We succeed in growing carbon nanofibers on silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, became our first customer. The R&D team developed carbon nanofiber-based interconnects in an RF device.
Our research and development efforts led to an important breakthrough. We succeeded in growing carbon nanofibers at temperatures below 390°C. This means that we can now grow carbon nanofibers on CMOS chips. CMOS stands for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor and is the most common way to design integrated circuits.
The R&D team significantly shortened the production time of carbon nanofibers by making them grow faster.
The company entered into an agreement on industrial process development.
We built the first supercapacitor with carbon nanofibers. A supercapacitor works like a rechargeable battery but can be charged and discharged much faster and without aging.
We succeeded in using carbon nanofibers (CNF) to build capacitors directly on silicon. This enables capacitors in integrated circuits. The technique can also be used to build extremely small Metal-Insulator-Metal (MIM) capacitors.
We made new advances with our carbon nanofibers growth technology. We developed 3D carbon electrodes based on carbon nanofibers. We decided to focus on commercializing our CNF-MIM capacitor technology in the coming years.
The semiconductor industry showed great interest in our CNF-MIM capacitor, enabling further miniaturization of chips while maintaining or improving performance. We prepared for an IPO. Smoltek Nanotech Holding AB was formed. The management team was strengthened; the industrialist Peter Augustsson is elected new chairman of the board.
Smoltek Nanotech Holding AB was listed on Spotlight Stock Market in Stockholm. The R&D team continued to deliver. For example, they doubled the capacitance of CNF-MIM capacitors per unit area, making them very attractive to the semiconductor industry. Various players in the semiconductor industry placed orders for samples of our technology. The patent portfolio was growing. At the end of the year, 51 patents were approved.
The R&D team made tremendous progress with the CNF-MIM capacitors. We squeezed 650 nF into a square millimeter and keep the internal resistance below 40 mΩ. Our technology delivered performance comparable to other solutions but at a fraction of their build height. Smoltek Semi AB is a new subsidiary formed to handle licensing agreements with the semiconductor industry. We had 55 approved patents and more than a hundred pending at the end of the year.
A leading capacitor manufacturer signed a licensing agreement to evaluate our technology. So did another manufacturer of passive electronic components. Smoltek Innovation AB is formed as a new subsidiary to bring Smoltek’s revolutionizing nanotechnology to new markets. The main area is the hydrogen industry, where our technology can be used for energy conversion and energy storage. Shafiq Kabir assumed an advisory role within the company group. We had 65 approved patents at the end of the year.
Within the semiconductor business area we manufactured the thinnest capacitor in the world! Well, a prototype of it. Fully functional, though. It’s a CNF-MIM capacitor with a total height of 38.2 µm (including the necessary substrate). That’s approximately half of the thickness of a human hair (just under the naked-eye visibility threshold)! Within the Hydrogen business area, we have focused on developing solutions for more efficient electrolyzers for fossil-free hydrogen production – and by the end of the autumn we’ve managed to get a Proof-of-Concept for our new, disruptive, nanofiber based cell material for PEM-electrolyzers. We had 70 granted patents at the end of the year.
For our capacitor track we’ve signed a Joint Development Agreement with global capacitor giant Yageo group to commercialize ultra-thin decoupling capacitors for application processors. For our hydrogen business we’ve signed a collaboration agreement with an international manufacturer of technically advanced materials for electrolyzers. This includes the joint construction of a PEM electrolyzer cell demonstrator, to show that the performance is significantly improved with our carbon nanofibers.
Would you like to know more about how Smoltek came to be? Then read the fascinating article Smoltek-from carbon nanofibers to mind-controlled robotic prostheses, which tells our story from the perspective of those who were onboard from the beginning.