Sinmat receives $2.4 million grant for research


Published: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 10:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 10:37 p.m.

Gainesville-based Sinmat Inc. is one of nine companies to receive federal funding for advanced manufacturing research — and the company plans to parlay the $2.4 million award into 15 local hires over the next three years, doubling its staff.

Sinmat has developed chemical polishes and processes to manufacture surfaces used in semiconductor chips.

Fortune 100 companies in the U.S., Korea and Europe are testing the technology for producing LED devices, according to Rajiv Singh, chief technology officer. The grant will allow the company and its university partners to test it on transistors for next-generation computing devices and power electronic devices such as hybrid car batteries.

The company is matching the grant with help from the University of Florida, with chemical engineering professor Fan Ren as a research collaborator.

The grant is from the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology, which provided nine awards totaling $22 million designed to improve U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in major growth sectors such as renewable energy and pharmaceuticals. Sinmat was selected from 110 proposals.

Sinmat's challenge is to develop a cost-effective process to produce near-perfect surfaces needed for future semiconductor production.

For example, current methods cannot adequately smooth diamond surfaces needed to rapidly dissipate heat on future-generation integrated circuits, according to the company's application. Silicon-on-diamond surfaces are expected to replace silicon-on-insulator surfaces by 2016.

Smoother surfaces are needed on diamond and other super-hard surfaces to improve brightness of LEDs and eliminate defects that impede the performance of high-power devices.

The company said its techniques could spawn a $1 billion market for super-hard materials with engineered surfaces.

Anthony Clark is business editor at The Gainesville Sun. He can be reached at anthony.clark@gvillesun.com or 374-5094.

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