The MCC’s most recent success story is Echodyne, which will bring to market radar products based on metamaterials technology invented by IV in collaboration with Duke University and the University of California at San Diego. The company is led by co-founders Eben Frankenberg (CEO) and former MCC Director, Tom Driscoll (CTO), and in December 2014, announced its initial round of funding led by Bill Gates and Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Vulcan Capital, Lux Capital, The Kresge Foundation, and others.
In 2009, Intellectual Ventures Laboratories began R&D work on a number of metamaterials applications. The foremost of these was a metamaterial-enabled flat panel antenna capable of dynamic beam steering for satellite communications. In 2012, this work culminated in the spin-out and financing of Kymeta Corporation, which has raised $62 million of private capital as of the beginning of 2014.
Following Kymeta’s launch, the ongoing metamaterials program at the MCC led to the development of metamaterials applications for imaging applications. Building on efforts at Duke University’s Center for Metamaterials and Integrated Photonics, IV launched Evolv Technologies in 2013 to commercialize a metamaterials platform designed for security imaging applications. As of the beginning of 2014, Evolv has raised $11.6 million of private capital.
Building on its history of in-house invention, Intellectual Ventures (IV) has developed relationships with numerous professors and universities to co-invent and patent metamaterials-related technologies. This decade-long collaboration has generated a rich portfolio of novel metamaterial ideas and technologies, and continues today to expand IV’s role in the metamaterials community. IV holds especially strong relationships with inventors at Duke University, University of California at San Diego, and Imperial College.
Brian is the Managing Director of the Metamaterials Commercialization Center (MCC) for the Invention Science Fund (ISF). In his role, Brian is responsible for the vision, planning and management of the MCC team, focused on applications of Software Defined Antennas (SDAs) for terrestrial communication markets.
In May of 2008, Brian joined Aperto Networks as CEO, he reported to the Board of Directors and guided the company out of financial distress and sold it in April 2010 to a public company.Previously, Brian was co-founder and CEO of Wavtrace, a broadband wireless equipment developer and supplier. Wavtrace was a pioneer in the design and deployment of millimeter-wave systems and was acquired by Harris Corp. in 2000. More recently, Brian was Vice President, Products and Wireless Services at BSQUARE Corp. Previous to Wavtrace, Brian was the CEO of American Public Communications (APC), an industry leader in the design and manufacture of innovative public telephony products and services for the Regional Bell Operating Companies.
In 1993, Brian was voted as a finalist and runner-up for the Inc Magazine / Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for his work at APC. Previously, Brian spent six years with Motorola, Inc., Portable Products Division, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. His experience at Motorola included engineering group leader for paging and two-way products, staff engineer and senior field applications engineering. Prior to Motorola, Brian worked for the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) at Kennedy Space Center, FL in the Launch Processing Systems group. He has been awarded five U.S. patents and received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Miami in 1981.
Senior RF/Antenna Engineer
Mr. McCandless is regarded as an expert in RF, microwave and millimeter wave circuit and antenna design. He has several decades’ worth of experience designing advanced circuits for radar and satellite systems, as well as architectures for low cost phased-array antennas from 12 to 40 GHz and the DirecTV receive antenna now being used on commercial airplanes. He has worked for multiple start-up companies, including WavTrace/Harris, GigaBeam, Vadum, Aoptix Technologies, and Terabit Radios. At WavTrace he designed microwave and millimeter wave circuits as well as a family of antennas for point-to-multipoint radios from 22 to 42 GHz. In 2004 he started his own consulting business (co-founding SunCastle Microwave, LLC in 2008.) Since then he has designed hundreds of antennas from 10 MHz to 95 GHz, now in production including several 71 to 86 GHz radios and antennas. Jay McCandless is well respected and sought after for his reputation for first pass successes. He currently holds 13 patents and two patents pending. Mr. McCandless received a BSEE & MSEE from UCLA in 1983 and 1987.
Dr. Eric Black received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in 2010. Following his Ph.D., Dr. Black joined Boeing Research and Technology where he was a key performer on a number of DARPA and other defense related efforts. Currently a member of the Metamaterials Commercialization Center, his interests lie in in the design, fabrication and evaluation of metamaterial enhanced electromagnetic systems.
Dr. Alex Katko received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Duke University, where he specialized in metamaterial design with a focus on nonlinear and reconfigurable metamaterials. Dr. Katko is recognized for a number of advances in the understanding and design of nonlinear metamaterials. With expertise in antenna, RF, and metamaterial design, he is currently conducting research involving ground-breaking new applications of metamaterials.
Dr. Yaroslav Urzhumov is a Metamaterials Technologist with the MCC, and also an adjunct assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. With a Ph.D. in the physics of metamaterials, his expertise spans from near-field electromagnetism to optics, nanophotonics, and acoustics. Dr. Urzhumov is also a resident inventor and an occasional academic paper-writer. He is recognized for the world’s first 3D-printable invisibility cloak, magnetic field superlens, and forward-leaning ideas like wake-canceling metamaterials.
Melroy Machado received his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York, University at Buffalo with a specialization in RF and Microwave devices. He is currently a RF engineer at the Metamaterials Commercialization Center, where he helped develop technology that contributed to the launch of Echodyne Corporation. Prior to joining IV, Mr. Machado was a RF/Microwave Design Engineer at Anaren Microwave.
Senior Director of Business Development
Russell Hannigan joined Intellectual Ventures (IV) in 2009 and is currently Senior Director of Business Development within the Invention Science Fund (ISF), where he participates in the creation of new spin-out companies. His responsibilities include identifying and understanding how existing and emerging customer needs could be met through the application of ISF’s new inventions, and then building compelling business cases, product roadmaps and implementation plans around the most promising candidates. In 2010, Russell was a part of the original team that identified how ISF’s metamaterials technology could be used to enable affordable, all-electronic beam steering antennas for a wide variety of satellite communications applications, leading to the successful spin-out of Kymeta in August 2012. He was was also a core member of the team that created and ultimately spun-out Echodyne in December 2014.
Prior to joining IV, he was Director of Product Management at Microvision (2001-2009), Director of Business Development at Teledesic (1999-2001), Director of Mobile and Satellite Communications advisory services at KPMG (1997-1999, UK), Principal Consultant at ESYS Ltd. (1992-1997, UK), an Independent Aerospace Industry Consultant (1990-1992, France) and a Business Development Engineer at British Aerospace (1985-1990, UK). Russell has a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Physics from the University of Manchester, England (1982-1985), attended the inaugural session of the International Space University held at MIT (1988) and is author of the book “Spaceflight in the Era of Aero-Space Planes (1994).”
Dr. David R. Smith serves as the James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Duke University and Director of the Center for Metamaterial and Integrated Plasmonics. He concurrently holds the positions of Adjunct Associate Professor in the Physics Department at the University of California, San Diego, and Visiting Professor of Physics at Imperial College, London. Dr. Smith received his Ph.D. in 1994 in Physics from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Smith’s research interests include the theory, simulation and characterization of unique electromagnetic structures, including photonic crystals and metamaterials.
Chair in Theoretical Solid State Physics, Imperial College
Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington
Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, Kymeta Corporation
Chair of Physics, University of California San Diego
Professor of Physics, Boston College
Distinguished Professor & Northrop Grumman Chair in Electrical Engineering & Electromagnetics, University of California Los Angeles
Associate Professor of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, University of Washington
What does the MCC do?
The MCC is a team of dedicated engineers, physicists, and scientists involved foremost with research and development efforts at the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory. The goal of these efforts range from proof-of-concept experiments and technical risk reduction studies, to the development of demonstration designs. The MCC works closely with the business development team at IV’s Invention Science Fund and participates actively in the in-house inventive process.
What is the role of Intellectual Ventures?
Intellectual Ventures took an early interest and developmental stake in the ideas of metamaterials beginning nearly from the infancy of the field. IV now believes the best way to realize the value of these ideas is to directly demonstrate metamaterials potential through incubating start-ups and attracting licensing partners to bring metamaterial devices to market.
What is a metamaterial?
A metamaterial is an array or ensemble of individual elements – unit-cells – which collectively create a macroscopic response determined largely by the internal composition of the unit-cells. This behavior is found when the unit-cells become smaller than a phenomenon of interest, typically one-third of a wavelength or less. When in the metamaterial regime, much of the macroscopic design process can be reduced to the design of the unit-cells, which can greatly simplify the engineering of complex devices.
How can the response of metamaterials be controlled?
The response of metamaterial unit-cells is set by a combination of geometry and materials most often designed numerically. The initial response is fixed at the time of fabrication, and can be adjusted/modified in real time through introduction of stimuli: electrical, optical, mechanical, etc.
What sorts of materials can be used?
Material choice is highly dependent on the application, but typical material choices are metals such as copper, gold, silver, or aluminum, combined with plastics, air, and ceramics. For electromagnetic metamaterials, printed circuit boards offer good material options in a mature fabrication process. In other areas such as acoustics, newer fabrication technologies such as 3-D printing show promise.
What governs the size of the unit cells?
Typically to operate in the metamaterial regime, the size of the unit-cells should be smaller than one-third of the “wavelength” of the property you wish to control. Smaller can often be better, but not always. As an example, for satellite communication the wavelength is several centimeters so the unit-cells are in the range of several millimeters.
Are metamaterials inherently lossy?
Not necessarily. Many metamaterial designs rely on resonances, and while demonstrations of resonant metamaterial devices in the literature are often lossy, total losses are governed by design subtleties and material choices rather than anything intrinsic to the resonance. As of the beginning of 2014, the MCC has demonstrated that metamaterial devices can operate with an efficiency equal to that of many conventional non-resonant devices in a wide range of situations.
Are metamaterials inherently narrow bandwidth?
While use of a resonance necessarily imparts a limit on instantaneous bandwidth, not all metamaterials designs are resonant; and very broadband devices have been demonstrated in the literature. Additionally, while use of a resonance shrinks bandwidth, this expense comes with significant possible gains in performance. In this sense bandwidth is not an output of a design, but an input to a design process.
Are there existing commercial applications of metamaterials?
There are certainly many commercial applications we believe would benefit from inclusion of metamaterial technology. As of the beginning of 2014, we know of no commercially available products that include a metamaterial, but numerous companies appear to moving towards production and sale of such devices.
Does a metamaterial surface need to be rigid?
Absolutely not. The academic literature has demonstrated metamaterials on flexible substrates, and many of these devices can survive millions of repeated deformations. We see that the potential to create non-planar and conformal metamaterial devices is quite compelling in a number of application areas.
What about invisibility cloaks?
Demonstration of electromagnetic cloaking has served as a superb example of the power of the metamaterials approach, and radically new devices may continue to emerge where imagination meets metamaterials engineering. From the viewpoint of rallying widespread acceptance and proving the impact of metamaterials in the marketplace, we believe our efforts are presently best directed in other areas, but we follow the world’s advances in cloaking with enthusiasm.