‘Black Silicon’ to see the light of day


Harvard University spin-off SiOnyx, founded by Professor Eric Mazur and Dr. James Carey in 2006, has exclusively licensed Harvard’s portfolio of ‘Black Silicon’ patents. The ‘Black Silicon’ relate to a highly light-absorbent material that absorbs nearly twice the visible light of regular silicon and detects infrared light that silicon based devices cannot utilize. SiOnyx claims it is able to produce silicon detectors and photovoltaic devices that respond from 400nm to 2500nm.

“Black silicon addresses the fundamental pain point in all photonics systems, the sensitivity to light,” said Stephen Saylor, President and CEO of SiOnyx, Inc. “By demonstrating that the black silicon process cost effectively scales within the established semiconductor device manufacturing infrastructure, SiOnyx is poised to transform the $10B+ light detection, imaging and photovoltaic markets by offering device manufactures a path to smaller, lighter and more efficient photonic systems.”

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“Black silicon is a truly groundbreaking technology, and one that we are thrilled to have emanate from our lab at Harvard,” said Mazur. “With guidance and support from Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, we’ve been able to successfully put it on a path to commercialization – one that I am confident will lead to significant opportunity for the technology and SiOnyx.”

Fabrication of black silicon uses femtosecond laser processing of the target material resulting in a 300nm photoconduction layer applicable to both biased (detection) and photovoltaic (power generation) applications.

Harvard has received an equity position in SiOnyx which recently raised $11 million in funding from Harris & Harris, Polaris Venture Partners and RedShift Ventures.


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