Caltech Licenses Thin-Film Thermoelectric Technology to Nextreme Thermal

Nextreme Thermal Solutions, a pioneer in solid-state thermal management in electronics and semiconductors, today announced that it has signed an exclusive option to license new, thin-film thermoelectric technology from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The technology covers pioneering work on thin-film thermoelectric devices carried out at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), an operating division of Caltech. The addition of this pioneering technology to Nextreme’s intellectual property portfolio complements technology previously acquired from RTI International in 2004 and significantly strengthens the company’s IP portfolio as a leading developer of embedded thermoelectric cooling solutions.

“We are delighted to be working with one of the top universities in the world,” said Nextreme CEO Jesko von Windheim. “Their technology enhances Nextreme’s competitive leadership position in the electronics cooling marketplace which provides exceptional value to our customers and investors.”

Caltech is one of five universities that constitute the elite of the technology transfer world. Nextreme’s interest in Caltech began several years ago when von Windheim licensed intellectual property from the University to use at Cronos Integrated Microsystems, a MEMS company that was acquired by JDS Uniphase in 2000. The technology Nextreme has signed an option to license has been under development since the mid-to-late 90s at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech. JPL has a strong history in the evolution of thermoelectrics having used them for decades to power spacecraft Developments in thin-film thermoelectrics at JPL led to the intellectual property Nextreme licensed for commercialization.

“We’re pleased that Nextreme has chosen to work with us to help advance their technology platform,” said Frederic Farina, Assistant Vice President, Office of Technology Transfer at the California Institute of Technology.

Formidable Patent Portfolio
Nextreme is addressing the electronics industry’s most pressing thermal management issues using technology that enables a unique integration of thermoelectric devices directly into the packaging of an integrated circuit. The company’s tiny solid-state cooling devices are embedded directly on the package for integrated circuit devices. These solid-state cooling devices efficiently pump heat out of the semiconductor device and enable cooling of the integrated circuit directly at its hottest point. Hot-spots on the surface of an integrated circuit can significantly limit the performance of device electronics and are considered to be a major obstacle to improved speed and performance in microprocessors and graphics cards. The licensing agreement with Caltech opens up new applications for Nextreme and further strengthens Nextreme’s already formidable patent portfolio in the area of thin-film, solid state cooling.

Nextreme’s process integrates thermoelectric devices with heat spreaders or heat sinks and marries them to an integrated circuit. When electrical current is passed through the Nextreme device, the integrated circuit can run significantly cooler than it would otherwise be capable. Consequently, Nextreme’s thermoelectric devices enable semiconductor-based electronics to function at higher ambient temperatures or with higher performance and improved long-term reliability.

Nextreme is already providing samples of its new technology to high-end chip manufacturers. The semiconductor and electronics industry can expect to receive products based on this technology in the near future.

About California Institute of Technology
One of the most highly regarded institutions of science and engineering in the world, the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, is home to some of the best students and faculty who share one mission: to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. It investigates the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.

Through its Office of Technology Transfer, Caltech has been active in the licensing of technology to start-up companies wholly or partly based on technology developed at the Caltech campus and its operating division, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Caltech intends to serve the public interest by prudent and appropriate efforts to transfer this technology to those who will facilitate public use and create the innovative, unparalleled science and technology of tomorrow.

About Nextreme Thermal Solutions
Nextreme Thermal Solutions manufactures embedded thermoelectric coolers to reduce the temperature of semiconductor hot spots, increasing the performance, reliability and yield of high-performance CMOS ICs. These high-performance solid-state devices operate as miniature heat pumps, efficiently providing localized cooling for electronic applications. Fabricated with a nano- engineered thin film using semiconductor processing techniques, these Peltier coolers are very small and thin for unobtrusive integration close to the IC’s die on a heat spreader, heat pipe or heat sink. Other applications include converting heat into electricity for advanced power generation applications. Nextreme is a spin-out of RTI International and is located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.