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December 11, 2000
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To broaden design and use of micromachines:

Sandia licenses its micromachine design tools to Microcosm Technologies Inc.

Albuquerque, N.M. — If you wanted to build your own micromachine — gear teeth as small as red blood cells, individual device as big as a grain of pollen — how would you even know what you wanted to draw, let alone write the code? And where would you get it fabricated?

A licensing agreement between the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories and Microcosm Technologies Inc., should enable inventors and engineers not only to design micromachines but to ensure their manufacturability and performance before incurring fabrication costs. (Microcosm is a worldwide provider of microelectromechanical systems [MEMS] software, among its other services.)

Designs might range from mirror arrays the size of a quarter that route Internet traffic to prescription drug-dispensing systems that fit on a fingertip.

Sandia maintains a 30,000-square-foot facility (Class 1) for prototype fabrication of silicon micromachines. The licensing agreement allows Microcosm to incorporate Sandia’s design tools into its commercially available software. The minimum initial cost for a Sandia fabrication run is $10,000.

Says Sandia manager Jay Jakubczak, “We are doing this because we are interested in seeing MEMs technologies inserted into biomedical devices, optical switches, and certain defense applications. Sandia offers a manufacturable technology (SUMMiT V), which is available for licensing. Our prototyping capacity can serve as a product-to-market enabler. Also, we support bridging strategies that provide for limited product capacity while a company is establishing or contracting for their own volume production source. Sandia further provides technical assistance in the transfer of its SUMMiT technology to industry.”

Microcosm, he says, brings commercially recognized expertise in design and simulation of MEMS. “So this agreement licensing SUMMiT (Sandia Ultraplanar Multilevel MEMS Technology) represents a critical piece of the puzzle in the development of a complete MEMS infrastructure.”

“This collaboration allows Microcosm to integrate our design capabilities with Sandia’s in the form of enhanced commercially viable MEMS development tools, thereby giving widespread commercial access to high performance MEMS technology developed by Sandia,” said Frank Damico, Microcosm’s Manager for Manufacturing Partnerships. “The SUMMiT V design kit will offer a common interface for MEMS device production, and our consulting engineering services will offer a fast-track for telecom and biotech companies requiring prototype and production manufacturing.”

Sandia technology transfer specialist Angelo Salamone, who negotiated the license with Microcosm, says: “We receive royalties on products and services offered by Microcosm. In return, we believe our MEMS applications and computer-aided design tools can add functionality to the company’s tool kit. We intend to partner to expand the capabilities for design rule checking, which warns a client that though the device would work, the rules being broken in the process of design will reduce manufacturability.”

“Microcosm provides an infrastructure — design through manufacturing and testing — to enable rapid innovations fueled by MEMS technology,” says Jeff Hilbert, Microcosm’s Vice President of Business Development and Professional Services. “We are currently working with over 20 leading optical startups who are seeking our expertise to help them develop optical mirrors, optical amplifiers, gain compensators, muliplexors, and mechanisms that move their optical components. The access to non-captive production capability to manufacture pre-simulated and refined designs is critical to the success of these companies. This agreement will help seal that success.”

Microcosm Technologies provides software, engineering and consulting services, intellectual property, and manufacturing partnerships for the development of MEMS and microfluidics-enabled products for telecommunications and biotechnology applications. The privately held company is headquartered in Cary, N.C. It also has US offices in Cambridge, Mass., Colorado Springs, Colo., San Diego, San Francisco, and San Mateo, Calif.; European headquarters in Paris; European offices in Amsterdam and Munich; an office in Japan; and serves the Asia Pacific regions through a network of regional distributors.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Media contact:
Neal Singer, nsinger@sandia.gov, (505) 845-7078

Technical contact:
Jay Jakubczak, jayj@sandia.gov, (505) 844-9196

Microcosm media contact:
Gail Massari, massari@memcad.com, (919) 854-7500, ext. 102

More information about Microcosm and its products and services can be found at www.memcad.com

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