Success can come in many forms for small technology companies. For Zeus Semiconductor, an early-stage company working on silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor technology, this success came in the form of acquisition by Advanced Power Technology.
Zeus had been a client of the Washington Technology Center’s Microfabrication Laboratory since February 2002. Prior to being acquired by APT in September, Bruce Odekirk was doing research at WTC’s Microfabrication Laboratory on the use of silicon carbide semiconductors for power components.
While working for Zeus, Odekirk used the Microfab Lab facilities three to four times a week and did the process development in person on-site at the lab. Due to the cutting-edge nature of the technology, being able to have hands-on control of the process development was a critical factor and the main attraction for Zeus in deciding to house a portion of their R&D activities at the Microfab Lab. According to Odekirk, similar facilities weren’t equipped to handle the level of control needed for the type of R&D that they were undertaking.
WTC looks at this acquisition as a win as well. The work Zeus was able to conduct at the WTC facility played a role in making their technology attractive to APT.
Odekirk concurs that the Lab’s capabilities were a key factor in allowing Zeus to progress to a level in their technology development that did catch the attention of APT. “It was while working at WTC’s Microfab Lab that we realized the real market potential for this technology was in power components,” Odekirk explained. “We were able to successfully fabricate our first prototype,” he added. “And the work we were doing was applicable to APT’s technology needs in power electronics.”
Odekirk was retained by APT as director of silicon carbide engineering. He still works closely with Marc Vandenberg, former president of Zeus, who joined APT’s management team as director of silicon carbide programs. While APT’s facilities allow their engineers to do much of the lab work in-house, Odekirk noted that “The WTC Microfab Lab has some specialized capabilities that may be useful to the company in the future.”
Advanced Power Technology is a leading supplier of high performance power semiconductors used in the conditioning and control of electrical power for both switching and RF applications. APT’s products are designed to power next generation high power systems for servers, computers, high capacity mass storage products, cellular base stations for telecommunications, and industrial applications such as advanced medical imaging systems, lasers, semiconductor process equipment, and arc welders, as well as military and aerospace power systems.
The company has operations in Bend, Oregon, Santa Clara, California, Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania, and Bordeaux, France. The Bend, Oregon operation focuses on Discrete Power Semiconductor products.
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