Last week, Texas State University and MicroPower Global established an agreement granting the company exclusive use of a Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) system.
Use of the MBE reactor will enable the company to commence production of its advanced semiconductor chips, which convert heat directly to electricity three times more efficiently than ever before.
The MBE tool, a V100 system which has two operating chambers, will continue to be owned by Texas State, with MicroPower paying a monthly fee once operational. Total production capacity using both chambers would be approximately 1.3 million cm² worth of MicroPower chips annually, double the initial capacity that the company had projected.
The chips are based on lead telluride, a IV-VI compound semiconductor.
MicroPower single chips
“We are pleased to continue our relationship with MicroPower as the company enters an exciting new phase,” says Bill Covington, chief research officer for Texas State. “The level of commercial experience on offer to students is important to us, and several of our graduates have already become full-time MicroPower employees - as the company grows we very much hope this trend continues.”
The MBE system will be moved by the end of the summer, from its present location on campus to the company’s facility at Texas State’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park. Texas State professors Tom Myers and Ravi Droopad will oversee the relocation.
MicroPower has also agreed terms with the university for the operation of a new research chamber, due to be installed this month on the development MBE system in the Roy F. Mitte science building on campus. Currently used for the growth of "barriers" on MicroPower chips, this will accelerate development capabilities.
"These agreements provide us with a great opportunity to accelerate our development, and in the near future to move seamlessly into production with much less capital expenditure than is typically associated with the transition to manufacturing," says Max Lewinsohn, MicroPower’s chairman.
"There is significant demand for our energy conversion technology. Our key challenge at this stage is to secure the necessary funding to enable us to ramp up our operations and be able to cater for the high level of interest we are experiencing," explains Lewinsohn.
As well as pursuing traditional forms of financing, MicroPower has also launched a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter, to give members of the public, who are interested in energy savings and reducing emissions, the opportunity to support the venture. The project launched on July 15th, can be viewed at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1005823715/micropower-chips-energy-savings-and-energy-efficie
MicroPower Global is a private company which is developing the next generation of thermoelectric devices for use in the areas of energy conservation, energy harvesting and refrigeration. The new MicroPower semiconductors chips can efficiently and cost-effectively convert heat, including waste heat, directly into electricity, leading to significant energy savings in a number of industrial and consumer applications.
The ability to harvest heat at temperatures ranging from 200°C to 600°C will make MicroPower chips the new thermoelectric standard for waste heat recovery. The current thermoelectric market is relatively small at approximately $300 million annually but MicroPower will be able to open up already identified new global markets worth many billions annually. Its technology has been patented internationally and independently verified.
Texas State University’s STAR Park
The Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park is a 38 acre site which hosts Texas State’s first building, STAR One, dedicated to the university’s research and commercialisation efforts. STAR One, a 20,000-square-foot facility, serves as a technology accelerator for start-up and early-stage businesses, and provides tenants access to secure wet labs, clean space, conference room, and office space.
The Incubator Program is designed to foster the development of new commercial ventures related to Texas State technologies in applied research. This building houses 'spin-offs' from research conducted and intellectual property generated by university faculty, and 'spin-ins' from companies that want to strategically work with the university.
The overall goal of the Incubator Program is to provide space and infrastructure to expedite research and commercial development of promising technologies in the context of viable, well managed, start-up companies.
By bringing together a critical mass of university and private sector specialists, the Incubator Program becomes a magnet for scientific expertise, novel problem solving, and successful commercial ventures.
The Incubator Program is particularly interested in supporting companies which have established research relationships with Texas State, or which have an interest in, and potential for, initiating such relationships.