Category Archives: Large Batteries

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), a university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., is adding three members to the global Energy Research Initiative (ERI) that focuses on new technologies for renewable energy and its efficient and reliable distribution on the power grid. The addition of Hydro One Networks, NEC and ON Semiconductor brings the recently created ERI to 10 members and expands the team’s focus to include finding new materials, devices and methodologies for power controls/management and energy collection, conversion and storage.

ERI’s goal is to address the world’s need for smart alternative energy sources and prepare students with the technical skills required for the growing industry. ERI’s approach is to create and leverage university research centers to address the specific energy research needs of its industry members.

Joining with ERI charter members ABB, Applied Materials, Bosch, First Solar, IBM, Nexans and Tokyo Electron, the three new member companies also will collaborate with selected universities to conduct the industry-specified research.

“It’s a rare advantage for research to enjoy such a diverse range of international expertise as these 10 members of the ERI represent,” said SRC Executive Vice President Steven Hillenius. “We recognize that the scope of what’s required to integrate renewable energy with the smart grid most efficiently is more than what any one company or industry can achieve. By applying its world-class individual and collective strengths, this team of industry and academia should generate far-reaching benefits for global energy use.”

Started in 2010, the ERI focused initially on two critical areas for efficient distribution of renewable energy resources – photovoltaics (PV) and systems and technologies to enable and optimize smart grids. Two centers for ERI research were established at Purdue and Carnegie Mellon universities to work with the industry to produce new findings for commercial applications to photovoltaics (PV) and smart grid.

The new, third center designated to drive advances in power electronics and energy storage will leverage existing centers of excellence in these critical areas and also include researchers from other universities worldwide. As planned, advancements from the current ERI centers in PV and smart grid will be integrated with results from the new center in power electronics and energy storage to provide efficient and affordable solutions for power generation, distribution and use from renewable energy systems.

Among critical elements of the combined effort, the ERI team is creating modeling and simulation tools to support the development of improved photovoltaic devices. They also are developing systems and technologies that will enable an efficient, reliable and secure smart grid electricity infrastructure with integrated renewable energy resources.

In addition to chip manufacturers and energy-related companies, several other industries could also gain greater product effectiveness from related research into ERI’s areas of expertise. These discoveries and their applications ultimately should allow for the realization of a cleaner, more affordable energy network for the planet.

In support of the ERI mission, the third center of research excellence, the Power Electronics and Energy Storage Center, is expected to begin work this spring. Key overarching technical challenges addressed by the center will be:

·         Development of solid state devices with high-voltage/current handling capabilities;

·         Bi-directional power electronics for interfacing, control and stabilization of intermittent renewable energy, including PV at the home/office and smart grid; and

·         Improved performance and lower cost methods for controlling parallel groups of energy storage cells (potential application of wireless sensors), optimized charge/release functions with the grid and dynamic Volt-Var support including optimization of battery charging efficiency and battery life.

ERI is managed by the SRC subsidiary, Energy Research Corp, which was formed in 2009 to create opportunities between the semiconductor industry and energy sector.

October 10, 2011 — BUSINESS WIRE — CCID Consulting released a white paper on China’s lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery industry, as the country seeks to promote new energy technologies for automobiles (electric vehicles) and other needs.

In 2010, China’s lithium ion battery market hit RMB 27.61 billion, an increase of 37.9% compared with 2009. China produced 3.67 billion lithium ion batteries in 2010, an increase of 33.9% compared with 2009. China determined in October 2010 to cultivate new energy technologies to lead the national economy. China’s lithium-ion battery industry will grow rapidly in the country’s Twelfth Five-Year Plan, CCID Consulting reports.

The country will spend RMB100 billion on new-energy vehicles between 2011 and 2020, with lithium-ion batteries at the heart of the sector. Shanghai’s strong automotive industry will capitalize on this focus.

Regional competition will push local governments to develop high-end technologies. The industry is concentrated on the Pearl River Delta, with a production base for raw materials and low-cost labor for assembly of lithium ion batteries. In 2010, the output value of lithium ion battery in this region is RMB 7.48 billion, accounting for about 27% of the nation. However, as the inland increasingly lowers the labor costs, the labor-intensive links such as battery core assembly and PACK will gradually move from coastal areas to inland areas.

Map of China’s Li-ion battery industry.

The Bohai Bay is the material and production base of lithium-ion batteries in China. In 2010, the output values of lithium ion battery for these areas reached RMB 4.56 billion. Beijing has achieved remarkable growth in anode materials for lithium ion batteries. Tianjin will become an essential base for the lithium-ion battery industry in the future.

Main upstream ores of lithium ion battery include lithium carbonate, iron, manganese, cobalt, and nickel. China is rich in lithium, next only to Chile and Argentina. The central and western regions offer rich ore fields producing lithium-ion battery raw materials. Regions with rich lithium ore reserves (Yichun Jiangxi, Ngawa Sichuan, Qinghai, Tibet) have "unrivaled conditions" for Li-ion battery development. CCID Consulting believes that with the rapid development of lithium ion battery industry and the expanding of downstream productivity, resource companies will face increasing pressure of supplying. As demand exceeds supply, upstream mineral resources will be of high investment value. Battery material is the bottleneck of lithium ion batteries industrialization.

With high barrier in threshold of market access, technology and other intelligence factors are the major drivers for the rapid development of high-end material of lithium ion battery such as membrane and lithium hexafluorophosphate. Intelligence-intensive eastern regions represented by Beijing, Jiangsu, and Shanghai, therefore, will maintain their monopoly position in high-end battery material based on their leading technologies. Eastern regions will hold even more power as new-energy automobiles gain prominence.

The output of lithium ion batteries from Japan, China, and South Korea accounts for over 90% of the global output. Before 2000, more than 80% of lithium ion batteries were produced in Japan, but China’s good investment environment and cheaper labor is driving an industry shift. Many Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese enterprises go to China to build their lithium factories. In 2010, China produced over 30% of the global output, and growing.

The development of battery core assembly depends on capital and scale. With mature production technique and technology, most lithium ion battery manufacturers in China can produce cores of lithium ion batteries, on the condition that the raw material supply is guaranteed. However, the production of motive-power battery involves combination of cores, which requests core consistency, more advanced battery production equipment and more investment as a result. Compared with other upstream battery material industries, this industry is labor-intensive, and many domestic and foreign enterprises have stepped into this field.

And what about recycling? As Li-ion production and consumption increase, scrapped lithium ion batteries will create environment pollution. Cobalt in lithium ion batteries offers huge economic value if recovered. With the development of battery recycling and recovery technology, especially the maturity of microorganism metallurgy in handling lithium ion batteries, cobalt, graphite, electrolyte and other metals contained in lithium ion batteries can be recovered.

CCID Consulting summarizes the distributing characteristics of world Li-ion battery industry and its successful development mode; and analyzed the features of domestic distributing and resources. CCID Consulting examines the trends for future development of China’s lithium ion battery industry and the assorted investment values of lithium ion battery in every links of the chain. This provided important guidance for the layout design of the national and local lithium ion battery industry as well as decision making of enterprises. Obtain the white paper at

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September 29, 2011 — Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) named Vladimir Bulović as director of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL). Bulović is a professor of electrical engineering and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow.

Beginning October 1st, Bulović will replace current director Anantha Chandrakasan, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering. Chandrakasan became head of MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in July.

MTL is an interdepartmental laboratory that supports microsystems research encompassing work in circuits and systems, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), electronic and photonic devices, and molecular and nanotechnology. Annually, MTL supports 550 students and staff who are sponsored by contracted research of more than $40 million. MTL has 35 core faculty members and 100 research affiliates.

Bulović currently leads the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory, co-directs the MIT-ENI Solar Frontiers Center, and is the co-head of the MIT Energy Studies Program. He researches physical properties of organic and organic/inorganic nanocrystal composite thin films and structures and novel nanostructured optoelectronic devices.

Bulović has authored more than 120 research articles and holds 48 US patents in areas of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), lasers, photovoltaics (PV), photodetectors, chemical sensors, programmable memories and micro-electro machines. Bulović and his students have founded two startup companies that employ more than 120 people: QD Vision Inc., which is focused on development of quantum-dot optolectronics; and Kateeva Inc., which focuses on the development of printed organic electronics.

Bulović received his MS from Columbia University in 1993 and his PhD from Princeton University in 1998. He is a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the National Science Foundation Career Award, the Ruth and Joel Spira Award, the Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society Award and the Bose Award for Distinguished Teaching, and was named to the Technology Review TR100 list. In 2009, he was awarded the Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellowship, one of MIT’s highest undergraduate teaching honors.

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September 23, 2011 — Smart grids — adaptable and better-managed electricity systems — will proliferate over the next decade. In turn, smart grids will generate nearly $6 billion demand for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries by 2020, to fulfill energy storage needs, according to the IHS iSuppli Rechargeable Batteries Special Report.

Energy storage stabilizes the grid between peak and low energy usage times, and can back-up power sources or store energy from intermittent sources like wind and solar power. The rechargable batteries in a smart grid system optimize electric power delivery.

The Li-ion battery market for smart grids will experience rapid growth from 2012 onward (see the figure), surging from $72 million in 2012 to $5.98 billion in worldwide revenue by 2020. Demand sources include single-home systems, residential clusters or buildings, uninterruptible power power systems for corporate information technology (IT) operations, through large-scale systems used by grid operators.

Lithium-ion batteries demonstrate "inherent advantages compared to alternative technologies," said Satoru Oyama, principal analyst for Japan electronics research for IHS. Because Li-ion technology is "uniquely suited for use in smart grids," the batteries will take over as the dominant rechargable energy storage systems on smart grids, Oyama said. Li-ion batteries maintain full capacity even after a partial recharge, and are considered to be more environmentally safe than other battery technologies.

Smart grids are developing with various government initiatives globally: the US has $4.5 billion set aside for smart grid deployment, and China could be the largest smart grid market in the world with $586 billion for investment during the next 10 years.

To learn more about this topic, see Strong Growth to Drive Lithium-ion Battery Market to $54 Billion by 2020: IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information and insight in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape, including energy and power; design and supply chain; defense, risk and security; environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability; country and industry forecasting; and commodities, pricing and cost.

Also read: Energy Storage Trends from chief editor Peter Singer

January 24, 2011 — Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and researchers from Stanford University have developed a combination of elements that yields a unique nanostructure material for packaging. This advance should allow longer life for semiconductor devices while costing less than current state-of-the-art materials. In addition to chip manufacturers, several other industries could also gain greater product efficiencies from related thermal energy management technology.

Semiconductor manufacturers currently rely on tiny pins or thick solder to bond sections of the semiconductor in order for the device to perform. However, current solder materials tend to degrade and fail due to heat and mechanical stress. To continue the scaling of integrated circuits (ICs), SRC and Stanford have researched materials that provide a high thermal connectivity (comparable to copper) with the flexible compliance of foam. The answer has been created through a nanostructured thermal tape that conducts heat like a metal while allowing the neighboring materials to expand and contract with temperature changes (metals are too stiff to allow this). This ability to reduce chip temperatures while remaining compliant is a key breakthrough for electronic packaging.  

"A big roadblock to increasing the performance of modern chips is hot spots, or millimeter-sized regions of high power generation. This advance in nanostructured materials and methods will allow us to better cool these spots and serves as a key enabler for densification of computational circuitry," said Professor Ken Goodson, lead researcher for SRC at Stanford University. "This can help packaging to withstand the demands of Moore’s Law."

In addressing the challenges of miniaturization, the first line of defense for hot spots is the interface material. Incorporating nearly two decades of advanced research and simulations for problems at the packaging level — much of it funded by SRC — the Stanford team ultimately arrived at their unique combination of binder materials surrounding carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The researchers expect it to facilitate the highest thermal conduction and the most desirable level of elasticity of any known packaging solutions.

"This new thermal nanotape revolutionizes the chip’s heat sink contact," said Jon Candelaria, director of Interconnect and Packaging Sciences at SRC. "Instead of being forced to rely upon the properties of just a single material, this combination gives the integrated circuits industry an opportunity to circumvent severe performance limitations and continue to improve packaging without adding cost."

While the research was funded by members of SRC to enhance computer chips, demand for applications of this kind of thermal interface also is rising in other industries. For instance, several automotive-related companies hope to recover electrical power from hot exhaust gases in cars and trucks using thermoelectric energy converters but reliable interfaces are a problem. Professor Goodson leads a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Department of Energy Partnership on Thermoelectric Devices for Vehicle Applications, with the goal of transferring the SRC-funded interface work to vehicles.

Patents for the technology are pending. The next step in the research is to license the new methods and materials to advanced thermal-interface companies for application tailoring and commercialization. End users are expected to benefit from the technology by 2014.

For more information and details about the new packaging materials and methods, visit and

SRC is a university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies that defines industry needs, invests in, and manages the research that gives its members a competitive advantage in the dynamic global marketplace. For more information, visit

(December 28, 2010 – GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Arkados (OTCBB:AKDS), powerline communication technology company, entered into a definitive asset purchase agreement to sell its semiconductor business to STMicroelectronics, Inc. STMicroelectronics will pay Arkados $11 million under the agreement, out of which it has already made an initial payment of $7 million in exchange for a license from Arkados.

A portion of this payment was applied by Arkados to settle approximately $12 million of $20 million of outstanding secured debt. The parties expect to complete this transaction in the first quarter of 2011.

This critical initial step is part of a major balance sheet restructuring plan that will consist of elimination of nearly its entire $30 million of debt — approximately $20 million of secured debt through a cash settlement and elimination of the nearly $10 million of unsecured debt primarily through the conversion into equity of Arkados.

Upon the completion of the transaction Arkados will focus on development, manufacturing, and sales of consumer electronics and Smart Grid products based on powerline communication semiconductors. Arkados will also continue to provide consulting and development services to existing customers and users of powerline communication semiconductors.

Arkados’ president and CEO Oleg Logvinov and SVP of engineering Michael Macaluso are transitioned to STMicroelectronics as part of this agreement. Arkados is further reducing its future costs as a result of semiconductor-related employees having resigned from Arkados and transitioned to ST. Grant Ogata, currently the EVP of Arkados, will serve as acting CEO of Arkados. Ogata, a 30 year veteran of the consumer electronic industry was formerly VP of global sourcing and product development of RadioShack Corporation.

Ogata commented, "We believe this transaction represents an important new chapter for Arkados, allowing the company to move forward without the previous debt burden, and leverage technology and patents developed by Arkados’ team over the past ten years. The growth of the market for products that provide multi-room distribution of multi-media content continues to accelerate. We expect Smart Grid markets to grow rapidly, and we will be able to design and sell unique, reliable products to serve these exciting markets. "

Arkados delivers a universal platform that enables networking of home entertainment and computer devices using standard electricity lines. The company’s system-on-chip solutions are designed to drive a wide variety of powerline-enabled consumer electronics and home computing products, such as stereos, radios, speakers, MP3 players, computers, televisions, gaming consoles, security cameras and cable and DSL modems. More information can be found at

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Energy consumption is a growing problem, driving searches for solutions

by David Hwang, Lux Research

November 18, 2010 – Energy consumption has grown consistently since humans first burned wood to roast meat, and growth in energy usage is robust today: in just 17 years starting from 1990, total primary energy consumption worldwide has grown 31% to 456 quadrillion BTU (quads) in 2007 (see Figure 1). While the faltering of the world economy has depressed industrial production, consumer activity, and travel since 2007, it’s clear from the rise of population and energy needs in emerging economies like Brazil, China, and India that this retreat will just be a temporary hiccup. While growing energy usage has lifted living standards and helped deliver all the goods of modern life, it’s becoming clear that our ever-increasing consumption in energy is unsustainable.

Figure 1: Global primary energy consumption grew 31% between 1990-2007.

Due to the risks posed by swelling energy consumption, inventors, investors, and entrepreneurs have turned their efforts towards ways of improving energy efficiency — whether through better engines, a smarter power grid, or more economical equipment and appliances. Policymakers have thrown their support behind such goals, with efforts such as the US’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E), Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), and Germany’s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP). Developers of nanomaterial-based technologies are no exception, seeking to turn up ways nanoscale materials’ unique properties can help trim energy needs.

Efficiency is the path of least resistance

To avoid an energy crisis, nations like the US, Japan, and Germany could opt for one of two unpalatable choices. They can try to legally enforce conservation, which irritates many citizens who are accustomed to the benefits they gain from their energy usage. Alternatively, they can build out production capabilities for renewable energy sources, but many of these technologies are still young, and the prices of renewable energy are usually uncompetitive when subsidies are removed from the equation. There’s a third option, however: pursuing energy efficiency, which can shave off consumption without requiring austerity measures from users.

As an enabling technology for many applications, nanotechnology can be a potent tool for enhancing the efficiency of both new and existing devices and processes. While most of the attention given to nanomaterials for energy applications has been devoted to energy production and storage, there has also been much work on improving the energy outlook from the demand side as well. With a decade of serious government, corporate, and venture capital investment under its belt (see the report "Ranking the Nations on Nanotech: Hidden Havens and False Threats"), the field has generated many nano-enabled products that can improve energy efficiency and are already commercial and on the market. In this report we assess the impact of six products in particular (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Six products rein in energy consumption in all four sectors.

Nanotech’s potential belies its size

We use the examples of the US, Germany, and Japan as three case studies to discuss the impact these nano-enabled products on energy consumption. As a starting point, we set out to quantify the total opportunity these six products posed for reducing energy consumption, assuming they achieve their full potential and 100% adoption. We found that these innovations alone could in principle reduce overall final energy consumption (FEC) in the US, Germany, and Japan by 10.9%, 13.9%, and 9.2% respectively in 2020 (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Full adoption promises enormous impact.

Full adoption, while useful for quantifying opportunities, is an unrealistic assumption and therefore not a good indicator for the future. To provide a more accurate determination of the impacts of these products, we built reasonable adoption scenarios for the six products by dropping them into buckets for 10%, 25%, and 50% saturation points and 10-year, 20-year, and 30-year adoption cycles, and then reanalyzed their effects on energy consumption. Note that this calculation is not an attempt to precisely forecast the market, but rather to make reasonable assumptions that allowed us to provide a realistic portrait of the future.

Under these new realistic adoption scenarios, all three countries coincidentally reduce FEC by about 1.6% (see Figure 4). As was the case under full adoption assumptions, the US, Germany, and Japan all benefited differently from these six nano-enabled products. Cumulatively, reductions from lighting and from automotive lightweighting through composites had the most effect, constituting about 40% and 27% of the realized energy savings from the three countries respectively.

Figure 4: Savings are severely reduced under realistic adoption scenarios.

Worries about energy needs are growing to a fever pitch, but virtually everywhere in the world energy demand continues to rise. Meeting this demand with cleaner or more secure energy sources can help assuage some worries, but the relentless upward march of energy usage makes for an intimidating challenge. Combined with other energy efficiency measures, from the smart grid to hybrid electric vehicles, nano-enabled products can help trim away at energy needs, dropping CO2 emissions, limiting environmental impacts, and mitigating cost and security concerns around conventional energy sources. Other challenges abound, of course: the developing world’s booming energy demand will be tougher to trim; penetration of renewables will still need to accelerate to seriously dent fossil fuels’ energy dominance. But nano-enabled products that advance energy efficiency will play a strong part in managing looming energy challenges — creating solid business opportunities along the way.

David Hwang received a BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and is an analyst at Lux Research Inc. His full report on nanotech’s answer to the energy problem is "Nanotech’s Answer Key to the Energy Problem ".

(November 18, 2010 – BUSINESS WIRE) — Dan Siewiorek, Karen Lightman, Rich Duncombe, Vida Ilderem, and other speakers from the MEMS industry shared their visions for the future at the MEMS Executive Congress 2010. Following are summaries of their talks, from the "iPhone 20" lifetime smart-companion to seisic imaging developments, energy management, and more MEMS opportunities.

In Dan Siewiorek’s vision of the future, each of us will get an "iPhone 20" at birth. Powered by a wide range of microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, this personalized mobile device will monitor your heart rate when you exercise, help the visually impaired to grocery-shop, and remember important social clues such as people’s names, phone numbers and directions. More of a “friend for life” than a smartphone, this intelligent device will help you to navigate your environment and will sustain you on a daily basis as you age. As a professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University’s Quality of Life Center, Dr. Siewiorek has unique insight into the practical applications of MEMS sensors and contextual software for mobile phones and wearable pendants. While addressing an audience of more than 180 business executives at the 6th annual MEMS Executive Congress on November 4th, Siewiorek and his fellow panelists claimed the attention of MEMS suppliers looking for new business opportunities as well as leading OEMs eager to learn more about the commercial applications of MEMS technology.

“At MEMS Executive Congress, OEMs and end users have a conversation with the MEMS industry about emerging trends and business opportunities,” said Karen Lightman, managing director of the event’s host organization, MEMS Industry Group. "During this year’s forum, market analysts shared their latest research on what’s hot and what’s not, with an eye to market growth through 2015. Industry experts in consumer electronics, quality of life/robotics, and energy dove into the short- and long-term commercial uses of MEMS. And keynote speakers from HP and Intel offered an inside look at how two top technology companies see practical applications for MEMS within their own organizations and the global IT infrastructure.”

In his opening keynote address, Rich Duncombe, strategist, Technology Development Organization, Imaging and Printing Group, HP, reflected on the business processes behind his latest disruptive technology launch: “While the creative energy behind innovation may seem like ‘magic,’ innovation at HP results from a disciplined business development process. We innovate from our core, incorporating client-focused innovation to deliver an end-to-end solution.”

HP’s latest achievement is a wireless seismic imaging system featuring one million sensor nodes based on accelerometers that are up to 1000x more sensitive than today’s consumer-centric accelerometers. Developed in collaboration with Shell, the new system uses high-resolution seismic data to locate difficult-to-find oil and gas reservoirs.

In her closing keynote address, Vida Ilderem, Ph.D., vice president of Intel Labs and director of the Integrated Platform Research Lab for Intel Corporation, wrapped up MEMS Executive Congress with some concluding thoughts: “The technology industry at large is realizing a greater mobility vision, one that encompasses mobile platforms and architectures, pervasive connectivity, context awareness and human-computer interaction.”

Identifying sensor-intensive applications such as mobile augmented reality devices and ‘personal energy systems’ for homes, offices and college campuses, Dr. Ilderem encouraged the audience to increase sensor intelligence and ease sensor integration to meet the requirements of these emerging context-aware systems.

More voices from MEMS Executive Congress
Dean Samara-Rubio, PhD, platform architect, Energy and Utilities, Intel, believes that “we need sensing, communications, data structures and analytics in order to build an integrated node to make a truly smart home that engages the homeowner. Once we integrate this sensing capability into easily managed and interpreted systems, we may begin to make inroads into smart homes and smarter commercial buildings.”

Cleo Cabuz, CTO, Life Safety, Honeywell, highlighted energy harvesting as a significant opportunity for MEMS: “With a strong portfolio of commercially-available energy harvesting devices for wireless sensors used in home and building automation, we see widespread future potential for small, low power MEMS sensors, using energy harvested from power lines, from light switches and even from gas and air flow devices.”

One of the event’s energy success stories came from Liji Huang, PhD, founder, president and CEO, Siargo Ltd. Through MEMS-flow sensing technology, Siargo’s smart gas meters have their first commercial win. Siargo has shipped its MEMS utility gas meters to more than 17 gas companies (including China Petro) since 2008. Most recently Siargo signed a strategic agreement with Asia’s largest utility gas company, Hong Kong Towngas, to further develop and deploy this technology to its more than 11 million customers.

Jungkee Lee, PhD, principal engineer, director of Telecommunication Module Lab, Samsung, astounded Congress attendees through a use of MEMS never imagined. Dr. Lee demonstrated Samsung’s Galaxy Beam mobile phone (GT-I8520) with integrated pico projector — which employs Texas Instruments DLP pico chipset. He pointed out that another DLP-based pico-projector phone, the GT-I7410, shed some light into the lives of the trapped Chilean miners, allowing them to watch soccer games and other visual content via projected images generated by the Samsung phone.

Greg Turetzky, senior marketing director, CSR, emphasized the value of MEMS as part of a whole platform: "New classes of applications that include GPS, communication and MEMS — all integrated via software — are extremely compelling. One example might be shoes featuring an embedded GPS receiver, small MEMS sensor and mobile phone transmitter. Such ‘smart’ shoes could be used to track the whereabouts of children and Alzheimer’s patients."

“We set records at MEMS Executive Congress this year, with more overall attendees and an even stronger international representation,” offered Ms. Lightman. “With top-notch keynotes and high-caliber panels, our speakers conveyed the wealth of opportunities in MEMS technology and MEMS-enabled applications. Our attendees responded with enthusiasm, engaging with speakers in formal and informal networking venues. We have truly raised the bar for our 2011 MEMS Executive Congress!”

MEMS Executive Congress is an annual event that brings together business leaders from a broad spectrum of industries: automotive, consumer goods, energy/environmental, industrial, medical and telecom. It is a unique professional forum at which executives from companies designing and manufacturing MEMS technology sit side-by-side with their end-user customers in panel discussions and networking events to exchange ideas and information about the use of MEMS in commercial applications.

Sponsors of MEMS Executive Congress 2010 included: A.M. Fitzgerald & Associates, Analog Devices, ANSYS, Bosch Sensortec, DALSA, EV Group, Freescale Semiconductor, iSuppli, Lam Research, MEMS Investor Journal, Maxim, Okmetic, Plan Optik, SPP Process Technology Systems (SPTS), SUSS MicroTec, SVTC, Tegal Corporation and Yole Développement.

MEMS Executive Congress 2010 was held November 3-4, 2010 at the InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. MEMS Executive Congress 2011 will be held November 2-3, 2011 at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa. For more information, please contact MIG via phone: 412/390-1644, email: [email protected] or visit MEMS Executive Congress at:

MEMS Industry Group (MIG) is the trade association advancing MEMS across global markets. MIG enables the exchange of non-proprietary information among members; provides reliable industry data that furthers the development of technology; and works toward the greater commercial development and use of MEMS and MEMS-enabled devices. More than 100 companies comprise MIG, including Analog Devices, Applied Materials, Bosch Sensortec, Freescale Semiconductor, GE, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Honeywell, Intel, OEM Group, Plures Technologies, Rite Track, Tecnisco and Texas Instruments. For more information, visit

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by James Montgomery, news editor

September 21, 2010 – The semiconductor industry’s legendary volatility keeps everyone on their toes, from chip suppliers to investors. And it’s the reason that a company like ATREG came into being, has been profitable for much of the past decade, and is now a spinoff from parent company Colliers to spread its wings.

Stephen Rothrock, managing partner, ATREG

ATREG got its start about 10-12 years ago under the umbrella of real estate firm Colliers; its first deal was selling a 200mm fab shell for Matsushita. Taking into account the costs of decommissioning and reinstalling equipment, etc., "we realized if they’d left the tools in place, we could have doubled their money," recalls Stephen Rothrock, ATREG managing principal, in an interview with SST. That deal led to referrals to Fujitsu (which did result in an entire site sale), NEC, Sony, and Komatsu, and from there IBM, Freescale, and others.

But in the past five years or so, the business has involved much more complexity normally seen in broader M&A negotiations, from IP to supply agreements. The ATREG unit has led Colliers’ businesses in growth and profits for several years, with sales north of $3B — but now fewer than 30% of its business real-estate oriented, Rothrock said, and "priced as a commodity, as on the real estate side, doesn’t do it justice." The company, newly based in Seattle, has roughly a dozen people currently involved with 10+ assignments, roughly mixed 70% dispositions (sellers) and 30% acquisitions (buyers).

Among ATREG’s recent deals:

– Qimonda’s North American 300mm line, sold to TI (the shell was later sold separately, to be used for a data center). ATREG also has been helping seek a buyer for Qimonda’s 300mm campus in Dresden.
– NXP’s 150mm integrated passives device unit in Caen, France, sold to management-led startup IPDIA.
– Atmel’s ASIC wafer manufacturing operation in Rousset, France, to Lfoundry, and its 200mm fab in Texas to Maxim.

Still on the block:

– IDT’s fab in Hillsboro, OR. Rothrock calls this deal "close to a conclusion."
– Sumco’s 200,000 sq. ft site in Cincinnati, OH. "They thought it would be an asset strip," Rothrock said, "but we brought them multiple buyers they didn’t think were there." This deal also is still open.
– A number of Freescale 150mm operations worldwide: two former sites in the UK (now "final stages"), a fab in France, and a site in Japan. The latter two are being sold as going concerns.

Other deals in ATREG’s past portfolio include projects for AMI, On Semi, LSI Logic, and NXP. And the company was involved in the original deal to sell Altis, the Infineon/IBM JV, to a Russia-connected group — a deal that "fell apart when Putin invaded Georgia," Rothrock noted.

In today’s environment where capacity is so tight, and foundry customers are being put on allocation, "we’re seeing a move back toward a desire to own [a fab], to control their destiny," Rothrock said. That’s a shift from the traditional mindset of setting up a brand-new line, installing and qualifying and calibrating equipment, and running the fab as a self-built entity.

A business like ATREG exists entirely due to the volatility of the market — up or down, Rothrock acknowledges. "Cyclicality is part and parcel of our business," he said. "Right now we’re doing more acquisitions than in the past several years." The company’s sweetspot is in deals ranging from $10M up to ~$300M; below that it’s a wash of time/resources and payback, and deals bigger than that are tricky too, typically more complex and longer to establish. Most deals take a year or two to close, and Rothrock said it’s ideal to open talks two or three years ahead of that, to help understand and guide decisions about tooling, inventory, finding extra value, etc. Competition tends to be internal corporate M&A teams of the divesting companies, who understand the complexities of their own business and technology but may not have the broader picture of the value of these assets to the market.

He also emphasized a desire to balance the backoffice analysis with keeping the operation and assets viable — the manufacturing keeps humming to keep the technology viable, and that helps keep the workplace intact and diminish millions in liabilities, he explained. "With Qimonda, we didn’t get there early enough," he said. He emphasized a desire to help solve the problem of seeing Europe and the US "stripped of this stuff, and going to Asia for pennies on the dollar." And he suggested the TI deal to buy Qimonda’s 300mm tools for its analog fab is a new trend, and suggested another trend is in more of a consortium purchase of larger-scale manufacturing sites, suggesting such a deal could be linked to Qimonda’s as-yet-unsold Dresden campus.

Rothrock projects a $300B market for such transaction advisory services targeting "cleanroom technology manufacturing," and wants ATREG to triple in size in the next 10 years. Right now about 75% of its deals are in the semiconductor area, with 15% in data centers (Colliers counts big names such as Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, AT&T, BT, etc.) and 10% in solar; 75%-80% are disposition "advising the seller" and 20%-25% acquisition-oriented. Ultimately he’d like to balance that out to about 50% business in semiconductors and the rest split among solar, data centers, "potentially pharmaceuticals and bio," and "alternative energy" e.g. large battery manufacturing.

August 9, 2010 – Business execution, and not so much technological differentiation, separates the pack among firms developing nanotechnology-enabled batteries, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Promise and potential for energy storage has attracted a number of firms, many of which are basing their work on nanomaterials such as lithium titanate and lithium iron phosphate nanoparticles with battery electrodes. But there is "little technological differentiation between firms targeting this segment," says Jurron Bradley, senior analyst with Lux Research, in a new report.

A123 Systems, for example, isn’t the only one who makes nanostructured lithium iron phosphate battery electrodes (target market: automotive), but it shines due to what he calls "solid business execution" — it was the only nanotech company to go public in 2009, and one of the year’s most successful IPOs in any tech category.

Others in the mix for the nanotech battery sector (see Bradley’s quadrated grid, below):

Electrovaya. The company scored highest in "technical value" according to Bradley’s criteria, developing nanostructured polymer electrolytes for several types of battery cathodes. It also has a "relatively strong" revenue to employee calculation of >$41,000, as well as "a strong partnership list" that includes Tata Motors.

K2 Energy Solutions. Bradley puts K2 in the "long shot" category. Despite recent development deals (e.g. a $30M Chinese JV and an undisclosed deal for scooters/bikes/etc.), this company has yet to land a significant partner in the "lucrative" automotive market, he points out.

Altair Nanotechnologies. This company’s star has lost some luster — it’s 1Q cash burn rate was 5× its 2009 annual revenues, and its stock price hasn’t sniffed the Nasdaq-required $1 mark since late 2009 (it’s currently languishing around $0.40). At this point, Bradley says, one could also call ALTI another "long shot."

The full listings and summaries can be found in Lux Research’s new report: The governing green giants: Makers of cleantech nanointermediates on the Lux Innovation Grid.

Nano-enabled battery/electric vehicle applications. (Source: Lux Research Inc.)