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Smoltek Mc22 Lab 03

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 busi­ness area 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. Our pat­ent port­fo­lio com­prised 77 gran­ted pat­ents at the end of the year.

A high-volume car­bon nan­ofiber growth tool for indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion of car­bon nan­ofibers in high volumes for the man­u­fac­ture of CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors has been com­pleted. Smol­tek Semi has developed a man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cess for 8‑inch wafers inten­ded to pro­duce indus­tri­ally man­u­fac­tured CNF-MIM capa­cit­or pro­to­types in high volumes.
Smol­tek Hydro­gen has has made great pro­gress in the tech­no­logy devel­op­ment of the car­bon nan­ofiber-based cell mater­i­al for elec­tro­lyz­ers and could show veri­fied test res­ults for the developed pro­to­types that pro­duced as much hydro­gen with only 0.5 mg of iridi­um per square cen­ti­meter as a com­mer­cial stand­ard mater­i­al with 2.5 mg of iridi­um per square cen­ti­meter.
Smoltek’s first two pat­ents aimed at the green hydro­gen industry have been gran­ted. Togeth­er with four new pat­ent grant for the capa­cit­or tech­no­logy we now have 83 gran­ted pat­ents worldwide.

Would you like to know more about how Smol­tek came to be? The fas­cin­at­ing art­icle Smol­tek-from car­bon nan­ofibers to mind-con­trolled robot­ic pros­theses tells our story, from the per­spect­ive of those who were onboard from the beginning.