Cambrios is announcing a new generation of its silver nanowire technology that can be used to make better touchscreens for mobile phones, tablets, and flexible devices.
The Sunnyvale, Calif.,-based company uses nanotechnology to create a thin transparent film that can conduct electricity. This film is ideal for adding touchscreen capability to any kind of display, from a smartphone to a large flat-panel TV. It also has the benefit of being transparent. The new version is even thinner than the previous one.
The technology, which competes with indium tin oxide, has interesting roots. It was born from a collaboration of Angela Belcher, a chemistry researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Evelyn Hu of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Belcher saw how abalone and other sea creatures used proteins to build orderly, inorganic films based on calcium and silicon; she then found proteins that would do the same with inorganic materials that had industrial applications. These materials also self-assemble into thin layers of film.
“Cambrios has seen tremendous momentum in the past year, and as a testament to our success, we launched our next generation silver nanowires and completed the expansion of our manufacturing facility,” said John LeMoncheck, president and CEO of Cambrios, in a statement. “This will help us to not only meet current demand and upside, but also to increase market share as new touch-enabled and flexible screen devices are deployed.”
Cambrios has also begun high-volume manufacturing at its own high-capacity factory in Sunnyvale, Calif., earlier this year, and counts TPK, Nissha, Hitachi, Okura, 3M and LG among its customers. Further down the supply chain, Taiwan’s Henghao Technology makes touchscreen sensors from film purchased via Cambrios’ customers. Cambrios’ silver nanowires are used to make touch sensors and improve the optical performance significantly.
Cambrios is supplying the new product to customers, and the previous generation of ClearOhm is already in use in dozens of consumer electronics devices. Among the products using it are LG and Lenovo touchscreen desktop monitors; smartphones from NEC, Karbonn, and BenQ; and point-of-sale monitors from GVision.
“At Henghao, we manufacture and produce high-end devices based on One Film Solution (OFS) using silver nanowires because its thin and lightweight qualities are well-suited to our needs,” said CC Hsu, General Manager of Henghao Technology. “We are excited that OFS is being used to address the high-end market coupled with thin and high performing touch sensor designs. We recognize Cambrios as a leader in silver nanowire technology, delivering value and performance to our company.”
In 2002, Hu and Belcher created Cambrios, and they received their first round of funding, $1.8 million, in 2003. They raised a second round of $12 million in 2005. The investors included In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. And in 2012, the company recruited current CEO Lemoncheck and raised another $5 million.