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.

“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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