NLM Photonics raises $1M from Japanese companies

Seattle-based NLM Photonics says it has raised $1 million in new funding to advance commercialization of its hybrid electro-optic modulation technology, which is meant to open the way for semiconductors that can handle more data with less power.

The funding round was led by two Japanese companies: Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co., also known as TOK, and Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.

TOK is a world leader in manufacturing materials for advanced electronics, and in supplying critical goods for the semiconductor industry. Hamamatsu is a major player in the market for photonics components — and was involved in a previous investment round for NLM. The TOK investment deal also includes collaboration on developing shelf-stable inks incorporating NLM’s proprietary materials.


Small businesses win NASA’s support for space tech

NASA’s latest round of small-business grants will support aerospace-related technologies ranging from a new kind of spacecraft docking mechanism to a power beaming system suitable for use on the moon.

Those are just two of the projects receiving Phase I grants from the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, also known as SBIR and STTR.

The grants will go to 300 proposals from 249 small businesses and 39 research institutions across the country. Each proposal team will receive $150,000 to establish the merit and feasibility of their innovations, representing a total agency investment of $45 million. SBIR Phase I funding supports projects for six months, while the STTR Phase I funding is meant to cover 13 months of work.

“NASA has a key role to play in growing the aerospace ecosystem in our country,” Jenn Gustetic, director of early stage innovation and partnerships for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said today in a news release. “Through these early-stage small business awards, we are inviting more innovators into this growing arena and helping them mature their technologies for not only NASA’s use, but for commercial impact.”

Gynelle Steele, deputy program executive for NASA’s SBIR/STTR program, said the grants are meant to “nurture pioneering ideas from a diversity of innovators across the country that may not attract the initial private industry funding needed to thrive.”


Electro-optical computing comes closer

NLM team
Members of Nonlinear Materials’ leadership team line up in the lab. From left: Delwin Elder, director of materials development; Bruce Robinson, senior adviser; Paul Nye, chairman and president; Lewis Johnson, chief scientific officer; and Gerard Zytnicki, CEO. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

It’s taken 20 years, but executives at Seattle-based Nonlinear Materials Corp. are finally putting the pieces in place for what they say could be a revolution in electro-optical processing.

“Everything in tech is about timing,” said Nonlinear Materials CEO Gerard Zytnicki, a Microsoft veteran who’s served as a consultant for a wide range of tech ventures. “And we think that from all perspectives, the timing is right for this technology to basically take off.”

NLM’s technology aims to turbocharge chip processing speeds by taking advantage of optical computing, which manipulates photons of light rather than electrons. That, in turn, could open up new frontiers for a field in which progress seems to be slowing down.

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