Back in the 1990’s, our founders discovered a revolutionary approach for hardening aluminium. Working at the University of Moscow, they developed a process which converted the surface of aluminium into ceramic. This process was used very successfully to treat mechanical components, bringing a unique combination of the lightness of aluminium with an extremely hard-wearing surface. The surface was porous, which meant that it was ideal for retention of lubricants – and since that time, it has been used widely in industries as diverse as motor racing, packaging, corrosion protection and textiles.
This porosity meant that the original technology could not be used in electronic applications – despite the substrate having almost miracle qualities of being thermally conductive and electrically insulating. However, after many years of research, new techniques and processes were evolved. The technology moved on from its roots in engineering ceramics, and nano-ceramics were born. A new process was developed which created tiny crystals of ceramic – atomically bonded to the aluminium, and very densely packed – eliminating any porosity. An electrically impregnable barrier could now be added to thermally conductive boards – allowing the creation of the world’s highest performance thermal management systems, including MCPCB or IMS type applications.
Cambridge Nanotherm Ltd, was initially established in 2010 to commercialise this proprietary nano-ceramic technology in the electronic industry. An early investment by Enso Ventures Limited (a private equity and technology boutique firm) enabled the early company to scale rapidly. The UK’s Technology Strategy Board also recognised the potential, providing invaluable assistance in the industrialisation of the technology to large-volume production.
Nano-ceramics are having a massive impact on the electronics thermal management market, and we’re just at the start. It isn’t just us saying this. In 2011, the company received significant international recognition by winning the 2011 UK Cleantech Awards (sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank), and being a runner-up in the 2012 Global Cleantech Awards. In 2013, the company was recognised by Frost and Sullivan for their “Technology Leadership in Thermal Management Solutions for LED Lighting”.
The founders continue to drive the technology forwards – while our products are already class leaders in terms of price and performance, we have many more developments “in the pipeline”!