Wednesday, February 8, 2017

ALD NanoSolutions - The ALD Spinoff company

I think that many as me have followed the innovative ALD developments from CU Bolder and Prof. S. M. George´s group through the years with excitement. Many discoveries have over time led to actual deployment in industrial high volume manufacturing using the processes, precursors and technologies form his group. I would like to especially mention the work on Tungsten ALD and catalytic SiO2 ALD that were very hot in the DRAM industry when ALD was introduced in production 2004 and onward. Catalytic  SiO2 ALD was actually one of the early candidates as a conformal liner for the first versions of double pattering. Now S.M. George is leading the development in new groundbreaking work on Atomic Layer Etching (ALE) and I am sure that some of those discoveries are heading to high volume manufacturing of leading edge Logic and Memory devices as well. It will be very exciting to learn the latest in this field when ALE 2017 comes to Denver Colorado this summer, co-chaired by S.M. George and Keren Kanarik from Lam Research.

ALD NanoSolutions - The ALD Spinoff company

Early 2000 a new company was spun out from CU Boulder and here is the story about ALD NanoSolutions. ALD NanoSolutions was spun out in 2001 from premier atomic layer deposition (ALD) laboratories at the University of Colorado to industrialize ALD applications "In 1997, Professor Alan Weimer of chemical and biological engineering heard a campus talk by Professor Steven George of chemistry about a novel process of coating surfaces with the thinnest of materials possible, known as atomic layer deposition (ALD)."

Left to right: Professor Alan Weimer, CU Boulder alum Karen Buechler, CU Boulder alum Mike Masterson and Professor Steve George are at ALD NanoSolutions in Broomfield, Colorado. (photo provided by ALD NanoSolutions)

“One of the things Steve talked about was putting an extremely thin film coating on a flat piece of metal as part of a research project for the U.S. Navy looking for ways to better protect the hulls of ships,” explains Weimer, an expert in fine particle processing. “We talked afterward and eventually decided to team up on the research.”

Starting up a start-up

Within a few years Weimer and George had filed a number of patents on the technology, gaining exclusive rights to a wide range of intellectual property. When the CU Technology Transfer Office strongly hinted it would be a good move to start a spin-off company, Weimer and George sought out CU Boulder postdoctoral researcher Karen Buechler, who was working in Weimer’s lab at the time.

A picture from the ALD NanoSolutions ALD factory floor and laboratories in Broomfield, Colorado. (photo provided by ALD NanoSolutions). Some of you may recognize Daniel Higgs Product Development Manager at ALD NanoSolutions in the background.

“They told me they knew I was looking for a job, and they needed someone who has the energy to pursue this outside of the university,” she recalls. “So I said I would do it. But we still needed someone who had experience running a business, which none of us had.” No problem. Weimer called Mike Masterson, his former graduate school office mate at CU Boulder in chemical engineering. Masterson, who was embarking on a career in Boston as a venture capitalist, became the first and only CEO of ALD NanoSolutions (ALD Nano). “In a weak moment I said ‘Sure, I’ll do that,’” Masterson recalls with a laugh. ALD Nano was now officially rolling with its four CU Boulder co-founders. “When you start a company, there are a lot of things you can’t control, and there is a lot of luck involved,” says Masterson, who has started eight high-tech companies. “You really can’t control the markets and you can’t control the global economic environment. But one thing you can control is who you get into business with. With Al, Steve and Karen, I knew I was going to be working with honest, smart and very dedicated people.”

Since the the company has grown and is today well known in the ALD industry for their ALD on particle technologies and patent portfolio (LINK) as well as ALD on flexible polymer. Here is the story about how ALD NanoSolutions at CU Boulder, USA was formed as a spinoff 2001.

After talking to Joe Spencer (Director of Operations) some time ago he informed me that they have pilot units in the field and current version can handle 200 kg/day and this year they will scale up to 1000 kg/day - ALD NanoSolutions Particle ALD has broken the barriers for high volume manufacturing!
In 2016 the company has expanded its portfolio of high-value IP, deepened engagements with customers, doubled the manufacturing space, and added new reactors to increase production capacity at Colorado HQ. Please check this Press Release for the most recent business success of this exciting ALD Company steaming ahead especially in ALD deployment for Lithium-Ion Batteries and LED Lighting: LINK

This text has been adopted to fit the BALD blog format, The Original Article : Spinoff company is all in the CU Boulder family