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CORVALLIS, OR, Jan 21, 2013 – Amorphyx, an early-stage startup developing a new type of electronic device that reduces the cost of LCDs through simplifying the backplane manufacturing process, today announced that the National Science Foundation has awarded the company the prestigious Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 grant. This grant supports the commercialization of Amorphyx’s amorphous metal nonlinear resistor (AMNR) device and manufacturing process. Amorphyx was one of a small group of SBIR Phase 1 award recipients; NSF typically awards about 15% of the 2,500-3,000 proposals it receives each year.
The Amorphyx AMNR technology simplifies the manufacturing of display backplanes, significantly reducing cost, and enabling the integration of touch functionality into the backplane, for both rigid and flexible displays. The three-layer metal-insulator-metal AMNR device structure eliminates 40% to 70% of the lithographic steps required to produce the amorphous silicon and metal oxide thin-film transistors (TFT) used in today’s display backplanes.
The AMNR eliminates semiconductor content from the backplane circuit. The challenges of producing semiconductor thin films on glass drive cost, yield and performance issues in displays for products from smartphones and tablets to TVs and large-area panels. The cost-saving benefits of the AMNR technology create the potential for returning the display industry to profitability from years of multi-billion dollar losses.
Amorphyx was incorporated in May 2013 to commercialize the doctoral research of Dr. William Cowell at Oregon State University, under the direction of Dr. Doug Keszler, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry, and Dr. John Wager, the Michael and Judith Gaulke Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Keszler and Wager have made significant contributions to the display industry through their foundational work on transparent electronics and metal-oxide semiconductors.
“The Amorphyx AMNR technology promises two critical benefits to the display industry: cost reduction for return to profitability without performance compromise, and a path to the cost-effective mass production of flexible displays,” said CEO and President John Brewer. “Through eliminating semiconductor content in the backplane, Amorphyx simplifies backplane manufacturing while enabling flexible glass backplanes with a thin, flexible AMNR device structure – something TFT technology has struggled to support. Together these benefits bring dramatic impacts to the future of displays.”
While other new backplane technologies require the purchase of new manufacturing tools, the Amorphyx AMNR technology has been developed to utilize thin film production equipment already in place in today’s backplane manufacturing lines. In an industry with over $150 billion in installed manufacturing equipment, Amorphyx enables manufacturing cost reduction without the requirement for additional capital expense.
“The AMNR represents the combination of innovations in electronic device physics, high-performance thin films, and backplane circuit and control schemes”, said CTO and co-founder Cowell. “The nature of amorphous metals enables a new class of electronic device – the AMNR – which decreases backplane cost through simplifying the device and materials system. The flexible nature of amorphous metals makes viable the concept of roll-to-roll backplane manufacturing in ways that current TFT technologies can’t support.”
Amorphyx is an innovator at the intersection of materials science and electronics for the display market. We leverage our expertise in amorphous metals and the creation of high-quality thin films in developing the Amorphous Metal Nonlinear Resistor (AMNR) device, subpixel circuit, and PECVD-based manufacturing process for rigid and flexible LCDs from smartphones to TVs and large-format panels. The AMNR reduces backplane complexity and cost, enabling the display industry to reverse annual losses in the billions of dollars. Amorphyx is a spinout from Oregon State University and the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry, and a portfolio company at the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI). For more information, please visit Amorphyx’s website at amorphyx.com, and follow the company on Twitter at #amorphyx.