A while back Fairchild semiconductor invested in a start-up called Silicon Wireless. The partnership revolved around an impressive patent portfolio provided through a NC State Professor ubiquitous in the area of semiconductor physics (he wrote most of the electrical engineering textbooks that semiconductor professionals refer to when they really need to solve a problem). Well, the little start-up got some amazing results in the lower frequencies, but had some heat issues at the upper frequencies due to the nature of vertical devices (in this configuration flip-chip, gold ball bonding limited the CW power). The professor worked directly with Silicon Wireless who extended their portfolio into high power high efficiency planar semiconductor devices and changed their name to Silicon Semiconductor. NDA’s in place with the MOT folks and complete tours including inspection of Smith charts at the DUT. MOT has a lateral RF power device that was in its 5 or 6th generation at the time and was pretty hard to beat. At the lower frequencies, our device was almost noiseless – superior in that regard. Without a military business strategy, Silicon Semiconductor eventually moved all resources to the power semiconductor area and began to farm out the intellectual property, some of which was shared with Fairchild Semiconductor to other entities, but eventually Fairchild bought sole rights to the technology. Today, I catch up with one of my dream-team from Silicon Wireless and he tells me the story of a couple years ago when he met our professor and shared what he had learned about what was happening to “his” technology. Apparently, the intellectual property we were unsuccessful in generating high power cellular revenue from was “unknowingly??” used at HVVI in pulsed avionics. Now the interesting part is that using social networking tools (like Linked-in), the small network of gifted RF professionals is small, but deep in connections. I am connected (by 1 degree of freedom) to 6 of the employees including the CTO and CEO. How did I not know about this company? Further investigation yields inter-connections with the Fairchild people that were responsible for our product line in the fab…and the MOT people appear as well, in 2nd and 3rd degree connections…Moral to the story is that it is a small world and sometimes things are hidden in plain sight. My Wow for the day!
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.