Semi printing startup gets boost from AMAT’s VC arm

July 11, 2007 – Weeks after securing $4 million in Series A funding and a government SBIR research grant, Semprius Inc., a company developing transfer printing technology for manufacturing semiconductor devices, says it’s received a separate “strategic investment” from Applied Ventures, LLC, the VC arm of Applied Materials Inc.

The company stated that its technology enables transfer printing of hundreds or thousands of semiconductors at a time onto various surfaces or other semiconductors. A spokesperson clarified that the $500,000 infusion from Applied Ventures will go specifically to support development of integrating heterogeneous semiconductors into a single package. He noted that the company is still honing its focus on several applications for its technology over the next six months — a plan that local reports note is something of a scale-down from previously aggressive plans.

“Semprius’ printing technology is in line with Applied Venture’s investment strategy to stimulate the growth of applications for semiconductors, displays and other product areas,” said J. Christopher Moran, VP and GM of Applied Ventures, in a statement. “We believe Semprius has unique technology that can offer significant performance and cost advantages for many advanced electronic applications.”

In addition to the new infusion from Applied Ventures and the Series A funding in April, Semprius also has received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Grant from the National Science Foundation to support its work into printing fully formed thin-film transistors on plastic substrates for use as high-performance backplanes in flexible displays. The research will focus on developing processes and materials to meet registration and yield requirements of large area array printing for display manufacturing, and to identify, analyze, and resolve key issues yielding circuit defects.

Semprius was spun out of the U. of Illinois in 2005 to commercialize technology that enables the placement of a high performance semiconductor onto any substrate or target wafer. The company claims the technology enables a manufacturing process that is faster and less expensive than alternatives, and can be applied to semiconductors, solar cells, and electronic displays. Initial applications of the technology include high frequency radio frequency semiconductors for mobile communications, TFT backplanes for flat panel displays and flexible digital X-ray detectors. The company’s founders tout backgrounds at Osram Opto Semiconductors, Dow Chemical, and Bell Labs, as well as the U. of Illinois. Harvard U., and MIT (via longtime MIT chemistry prof. George Whitesides).

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