Office of Technology Development (OTD) and SiOnyx, Inc. today announced that
SiOnyx has exclusively licensed Harvard's portfolio of black silicon patents.
Black silicon, a novel laser implant technique that radically alters the photonic
properties of semiconductor devices, was discovered by Harvard’s Eric
Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, who holds a joint
appointment in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and the School of Engineering
and Applied Sciences (SEAS).
A highly light-absorbent material, black silicon absorbs nearly twice the visible
light of regular silicon and detects infrared light that is normally invisible
to silicon based devices, a capability that allows for dramatic performance
enhancements in applications ranging from simple light detection to advanced
digital imaging and solar energy.
In consideration for licensing the patents, Harvard has received an equity
position in SiOnyx and will receive downstream royalties. SiOnyx also recently
raised $11 million in funding from Harris & Harris, Polaris Venture Partners
and RedShift Ventures.
SiOnyx is producing devices that represent the first and only known, low cost,
highly scalable platform for hyper-spectral imaging. The SiOnyx implant is compatible
with established semiconductor manufacturing processes and introduces no new
material. The company’s patented process employs femtosecond laser processing
of the target material resulting in an extremely thin (300nm) photoconduction
layer applicable to both biased (detection) and photovoltaic (power generation)
”Black silicon addresses the fundamental pain point in all photonics
systems, the sensitivity to light,” said Stephen Saylor, president and
CEO of SiOnyx, Inc. “By demonstrating that the black silicon process cost
effectively scales within the established semiconductor device manufacturing
infrastructure, SiOnyx is poised to transform the $10B+ light detection, imaging
and photovoltaic markets by offering device manufactures a path to smaller,
lighter and more efficient photonic systems.”
“Black silicon is a truly groundbreaking technology, and one that we
are thrilled to have emanate from our lab at Harvard,” said Mazur. “With
guidance and support from Harvard’s Office of Technology Development,
we’ve been able to successfully put it on a path to commercialization
– one that I am confident will lead to significant opportunity for the
technology and SiOnyx.”
SiOnyx joins a growing list of Harvard spinouts, including Nano-Terra, SiEnergy,
and Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SIRT). Since 2005, more than twenty companies
have spun out of Harvard, several raising funding from leading venture capital
firms including Alloy Ventures, Fidelity Biosciences, Flagship Ventures, Khosla
Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Novartis Bioventure Fund, Oxford
Bioscience Partners, Polaris Venture Partners and more.
"The technical advances represented by black silicon and the exciting
steps being taken to develop it for commercial applications serve as even more
evidence of the entrepreneurial energy that continues to gel and accelerate
at Harvard," said Isaac T. Kohlberg, Harvard University's Senior Associate
Provost and Chief Technology Development Officer. “The story of black
silicon and SiOnyx is an excellent example of Harvard's commitment to transfer
promising, early-stage technology out of our research enterprise so it can be
developed and utilized for the good of society."