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Ola Tiverman, President Smoltek Semi

Operational update on the activities in Smoltek Semi

A main goal for Smoltek Semi is to develop an industrial process for mass production of discrete CNF-MIM capacitors at contract manufacturers (foundry), including a specially designed machine for large-scale production of carbon nanofibers.

September 28, 2021

“We have made great pro­gress in 2021 in terms of the fur­ther devel­op­ment and indus­tri­al­iz­a­tion of our CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors. Not least, I feel much more con­fid­ent today when it comes to the status of the pro­cure­ment of the indus­tri­al car­bon fiber machine required to be able to begin mass pro­duc­tion. Ini­tially, we are focus­ing on devel­op­ing a pro­duc­tion pro­cess for dis­crete CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors used in mobile applic­a­tion pro­cessors, which is a niche that essen­tially all major play­ers are inter­ested in,” says Ola Tiver­man, Pres­id­ent of Smol­tek Semi , which is respons­ible for licens­ing Smoltek’s tech­no­logy to com­pan­ies in the semi­con­duct­or industry.

Busi­ness oppor­tun­ity for CNF-MIM capacitors

As the semi­con­duct­or industry has been able to con­tin­ue to mini­atur­ize the tran­sist­ors in pro­cessor chips, the chips achieve increased per­form­ance, which gives us faster and increas­ingly power­ful com­puters, tab­lets, mobile phones, etc. A con­sequence of this devel­op­ment is that the chip voltage must be lowered, and the fre­quency increased. This entails an increased need for so-called decoup­ling capa­cit­ors near the chip. In order to be placed close enough to the chip, these capa­cit­ors need to be extremely thin. Smoltek’s car­bon nan­ofiber based capa­cit­ors (CNF-MIM) can solve these spe­cif­ic prob­lems, espe­cially for mobile phone chips (applic­a­tion pro­cessors). Tar­get cus­tom­ers for Smoltek’s CNF-MIM capa­cit­or tech­no­logy are the largest capa­cit­or manufacturers.

Pro­cure­ment of a high-volume machine for grow­ing car­bon nanofibers

Spe­cify­ing and pro­cur­ing a machine for grow­ing car­bon nan­ofibers is required for mass pro­duc­tion of Smoltek’s car­bon nan­ofibers to the company’s CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors. This is an import­ant part of Smoltek’s ongo­ing indus­tri­al­iz­a­tion of the tech­no­logy for dis­crete capa­cit­ors. The company’s goal is to be able to pro­cure and install such a machine on site at a con­tract man­u­fac­turer (foundry) that will mass-pro­duce the capa­cit­ors. This means that the entire pro­cess of man­u­fac­tur­ing CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors is gathered under one roof, while Smol­tek retains own­er­ship of the pro­duc­tion step that is unique to CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors. The com­pany has received quotes from eight man­u­fac­tur­ers of indus­tri­al machines for grow­ing car­bon nan­ofibers, and the pro­cure­ment is now con­tinu­ing with tests and negotiations.

Indus­tri­al­iz­a­tion and cre­ation of a sup­ply chain

Smol­tek has pre­vi­ously worked with the concept phase for how mass pro­duc­tion of the company’s dis­crete CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors should take place at con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ers (foundry) in terms of vari­ables such as price, per­form­ance and pro­duc­tion yield. The indus­tri­al­iz­a­tion pro­cess is now enter­ing a design phase togeth­er with con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ers to design the com­pon­ents which are to be man­u­fac­tured. If suc­cess­ful, this design phase, which con­sti­tutes phase three of five before mass pro­duc­tion can begin, will lead to an engin­eer­ing phase where the pro­cess steps are optim­ized and approved for high-volume pro­duc­tion. This will res­ult in a com­plete man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cess that will be pos­sible to use for sev­er­al products and by sev­er­al cus­tom­ers. The goal is to com­plete the man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cess around the spe­cially man­u­fac­tured car­bon fiber machine at a con­tract man­u­fac­turer. The last step before mass pro­duc­tion can begin is to approve the actu­al product or products which are to be man­u­fac­tured by sub­ject­ing it/​them to a num­ber of well-defined tests.

Cus­tom­er rela­tion­ships with major man­u­fac­tur­ers of capacitors/​product solutions

The poten­tial cus­tom­er base of com­pan­ies that may be inter­ested in mass-pro­du­cing dis­crete CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors at a con­tract man­u­fac­turer with access to Smoltek’s car­bon nan­ofiber machine and man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cess con­sists of a small num­ber of very large play­ers. These include the licensee in Smoltek’s ongo­ing eval­u­ation col­lab­or­a­tion. The goal is to reach one or sev­er­al cus­tom­er agree­ments with the aim of util­iz­ing the developed pro­cess for mass pro­duc­tion of dis­crete CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors. The main track is to license Smoltek’s tech­no­logy to one or more large man­u­fac­tur­ers, but our devel­op­ment of an indus­tri­al pro­cess also opens up for a product-based busi­ness mod­el. Smol­tek could thus in the future sell a license, and as a com­ple­ment deliv­er phys­ic­al com­pon­ents to the capa­cit­or manufacturer.

Fur­ther tech­nic­al devel­op­ment of the CNF-MIM technology

In par­al­lel with the indus­tri­al­iz­a­tion of Smoltek’s CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors, the com­pany con­tin­ues its suc­cess­ful work to fur­ther improve the concept’s per­form­ance. For example, the com­pany recently attrac­ted great interest and received a men­tion for best presentation/​paper at the inter­na­tion­al PCNS con­fer­ence in Mil­an, which is an import­ant European event for the capa­cit­or industry.

In 2021, Smol­tek has focused a lot on improv­ing the prop­er­ties of the CNF-MIM tech­no­logy that are import­ant in addi­tion to the capa­cit­ance dens­ity, which can be said to be the capacitor’s horsepower, but in the future the goal is to put more effort into fur­ther improv­ing this import­ant para­met­er and to demon­strate how thin CNF-MIM capa­cit­ors Smol­tek is able to manufacture.

“It felt incred­ibly inspir­ing to be present dur­ing the PCNS con­fer­ence in Mil­an this Septem­ber, and to be able to meet people in the semi­con­duct­or industry again. I am con­vinced that phys­ic­al meet­ings are neces­sary in order to secure the sig­ni­fic­ant agree­ments that we are ulti­mately aim­ing for. The oppor­tun­ity to meet phys­ic­ally again is also an advant­age when we are now sub­stan­tially strength­en­ing Smol­tek Semi’s team with addi­tion­al skill sets and exper­i­ence from the semi­con­duct­or industry. Sev­er­al recruit­ment pro­cesses are now under­way dur­ing the autumn, and they will be fol­lowed by addi­tion­al recruit­ments in 2022,”

Ola Tiver­man, concludes.

Image: Ola Tiver­man, Pres­id­ent of Smol­tek Semi

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