Jan. 18, 1999 Northwestern University has received final patent approval and issuance by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the world's smallest laser -- a Microcavity Semiconductor Laser (Patent 5,825,799) -- and the laser's Photonic-Well Microcavity Light Emitting Device (Patent 5,790,583). The World Intellectual Property Organization has issued an international patent for the university's Semiconductor Micro-Resonator Device (International Patent WO 98/53535). Several other patents are pending.
Northwestern's Transfer Technology Program has issued to Nanovation Technologies, Inc., the exclusive, worldwide licensing rights to these devices and their underlying technologies for the purposes of pursuing commercial applications in the private industry sector.
Northwestern's Microcavity Semiconductor Laser technology forms the building blocks for a family of fully integrated optic components that are currently being tested for Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM) and Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) application.
Nanovation Technologies is testing a fully integrated optic circuit comprised of the Microcavity Semiconductor Laser, a photonic switch, and an optical wire in its laboratory on Northwestern's Evanston, Ill., campus. Similar to today's semiconductor integrated circuits, Northwestern's patented photonic devices are planar in their structure, thereby allowing them to be fabricated onto semiconductor wafers in use by the semiconductor industry today.
The nanoscale and planarity of these microcavity devices make it possible to integrate thousands of devices on a single semiconductor chip, thus boosting the information carrying and processing capacities of today's chips. Research shows that this circuit has the potential to elevate both the speed and information capacity of existing chip technology by a factor of 100 to 1,000, with application potential in high-speed communications, optical signal processing and optical computing devices.
"High performance, integrated optic devices will revolutionize the way we communicate in the next millennium," said Bob Tatum, chairman and chief executive officer of Nanovation Technologies. "These patent approvals mark an important operating advantage in the Nanovation Technologies' evolution toward commercial application of integrated optic circuits."
Headquartered in Miami, Fla., Nanovation Technologies, Inc. is working toward the commercialization of patented photonic technology developed initially at Cornell University and later refined at Northwestern by Seng Tiong Ho, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in Northwestern's Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and his research team.
As part of a 1996 licensing agreement with Northwestern, Nanovation Technologies has the exclusive worldwide rights to Ho's photonic research and devices, including a microcavity semi-conductor laser, a photonic switch, and a photonic wire (or optical waveguide). As part of that agreement, Nanovation Technologies has financed the construction of a state-of-the-art nanofabrication laboratory and clean room on the Northwestern Evanston campus -- the nation's first such facility dedicated to nanophotonics research.
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