Nextreme speeds chips with thermoelectric material

Feb. 8, 2005
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., 8 February 2005. Nextreme Thermal Solutions today announced securing $8 million in Series A financing. Nextreme, a spin-off of RTI International, will be led by former RTI entrepreneur-in-residence Jesko von Windheim.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., 8 February 2005. Nextreme Thermal Solutions today announced securing $8 million in Series A financing. Nextreme, a spin-off of RTI International, will be led by former RTI entrepreneur-in-residence Jesko von Windheim.

The $8 million round, funded by investment firms SpaceVest, Aurora Funds, Harris & Harris Group, Inc. and RTI International, will be used to develop thermoelectric devices to address acute thermal management problems in the semiconductor industry and to further develop the application base, including power generation and optical communications.

The technology, a thin-film superlattice material made from a semiconductor alloy, emerged from RTI's work with the U.S. Department of Defense. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have provided funding since 1993 for the company's development of the new materials and devices.

As microcircuits steadily shrink in size, the semiconductor industry is for the first time reaching limitations in performance because of thermal, rather than electronic problems.

Faster microprocessors generate hot spots which can reduce reliability and lead to technology failures. Nextreme's superlattice material, when placed directly under a semiconductor hot spot, can efficiently pump heat from the semiconductor package. The form-factor of this ultra-thin thermoelectric device enables direct integration onto the semiconductor or into the chip package, providing an unobtrusive, high-performance, solid-state solution with no moving parts.

"In this company we have a strong base in the research and development of both RTI International and the U.S. Department of Defense, coupled with an established technology team and proven management. With this foundation we believe the future for this commercialization effort is bright," said Richard Harris, managing director of SpaceVest. "We're happy to be a part of that success moving forward."

Dr. Rama Venkatasubramanian, Director of RTI's Center for Thermoelectrics Research, led the research team that is credited with the creation. "Our technology provides a unique platform from which superior heat-pumping devices can be fabricated for applications where density, speed and efficiency requirements are a premium," said Dr. Venkatasubramanian, who now also serves as Nextreme CTO.

"It is very exciting to lead an organization which has such a unique solution in a market that obviously has a pressing need for new, innovative approaches," said Jesko von Windheim, Nextreme CEO. "I am particularly pleased to have a strong investment team as well as the continued backing of RTI International, a world leader in multi-disciplinary research."

Prior to his work with RTI International, von Windheim was a co-founder of Cronos Integrated Microsystems, a MEMS company that was acquired for $750 million by JDS Uniphase. SpaceVest was also a backer of Cronos.

Based on its unique, thin-film superlattice technology, Nextreme Thermal Solutions is developing the next generation thermoelectrics for applications that require extreme thermal management solutions. The technology has the potential to dramatically improve thermal management for the next generation of microprocessors and other integrated circuits. Other applications include refrigeration, personal heating/cooling, power generation, cooling microprocessors, fiber-optic switches, biotechnology and automotive energy management. Nextreme is located on the campus of RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., the home to one of the world's leading research teams in thermoelectric materials. For more information, see

SpaceVest is a venture capital firm that invests in companies leveraging advanced technologies to provide compelling solutions for customers in high-growth markets. SpaceVest is focused on companies that provide hardware and/or software solutions in the following technology sectors: Wireless/Communications; Network Infrastructure & Security; GPS/GIS/Remote Sensing; Space/Defense Technologies; Video/Imaging and Semiconductors & Nanotechnology. SpaceVest manages approximately $270 million for global institutional limited partners. For over a decade, SpaceVest has led early and expansion stage investments in US-based companies. The firm has invested in both start-up companies and spin-offs that are positioned for leadership in exciting market sectors. For more information, see

The Aurora Funds is a venture capital firm founded in 1994 that provides capital and strategic help to entrepreneurs with early stage life sciences and information technology companies in the Southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States. The firm has more than $155 million of total capital under management and is currently investing out of its fourth fund of $85 million. The firm has the capacity to invest between $4 million and $7 million throughout the life cycle of an investment. For more information see

Harris & Harris Group is a publicly traded venture capital company that now makes initial investments exclusively in tiny technology, including nanotechnology, microsystems and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The company's last 20 initial private equity investments have been in tiny-technology enabled companies. For more information see

RTI International is an independent nonprofit research organization dedicated to conducting research and development that improves the human condition. With a staff of more than 2,500 people, RTI offers innovative research and technical solutions to governments and businesses worldwide in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals, advanced technology, surveys and statistics, education and training, economic and social development, and the environment. For more information, see

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