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Location key to luring business to Lake County region

Lake County NewsSun - Dec. 4, 2014

Arthur Cyr


Cutting-edge technologies surmount enormous distances and other barriers, yet immediate location remains important. Developments in Lake County and just to the north in Wisconsin demonstrate the point.

AKHAN Semiconductor has reached an important exclusive contract with the Department of Energy, at the same time that the firm has announced a strong desire to move corporate operations to Gurnee in Lake County, near I-94, from Hoffman Estates further west.

Meanwhile, Janesville, Wisconsin, is having a major, direct impact on the U.S. space program, specifically the latest space probe mission to Mars, which began orbiting the planet in late September. Performance Micro Tool, based in that community, has established a specific and vital technical niche in our space program, and potentially those of other nations as well.

On Nov. 11, AKHAN announced that an important new partnership has been established with Argonne National Laboratory, also located in the greater Chicago region. The enormous laboratory to the south, which is operated by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy, is one of the most substantial scientific research facilities in the world.

The partnership will permit AKHAN to develop an innovative diamond semiconductor process. The company already has been implementing an agreement with the laboratory to develop a preliminary platform for using specialized diamond film. The film is a semiconductor in advanced aviation, defense, power and telecommunications industries.

AKHAN Semiconductor was launched by entrepreneur Adam Khan in 2012 as a subsidiary of AKHAN Technologies, currently based in Hoffman Estates. Khan, a Gurnee native, founded the parent firm in 2007.

The new facility would be housed in a 150,000-square-foot building west of I-94, which another company is vacating. Negotiations for the move involve several local government entities in Warren Township, the Gurnee Park District and Lake County government. Some local officials have objected to the proposed investment on the grounds that more information is needed from AKHAN. If the deal goes through, the company estimates the total investment in northern Illinois will amount to approximately $15 million.

Adam Khan readily states that he would welcome an opportunity return “home,” but nostalgia is not the main reason for any sound business decision. The proposed new location, while not too distant from Hoffman Estates, is much more central to the enormous Chicago-Milwaukee interstate highway corridors, as well as rail lines and water shipping.

Khan has already established considerable visibility. In 2014, Forbes included the 29-year-old in the “30 under 30″ category of leaders in energy and industry.

Up in Janesville, Performance Micro Tool represents a similar story of a new, extremely advanced technology company carefully selecting a geographically sensible location. The company was founded in 1999 by Dave Burton and a partner in Michigan, previously a base for electronics suppliers.

Like AKHAN, the firm is relatively small, specializes in products which are extremely tiny and complex technologically, and reflects the vision and daring of individual entrepreneurs. Customers are in such diverse industries as aerospace, communications, electronics, jewelry, medical devices and musical instruments.

Performance Micro Tool products include routers used on Mars explorer rovers. As space exploration evolves from intense Cold War competition to broad international cooperation, even more high-tech business opportunities will appear.

These two businesses show dramatically that companies here can succeed in the most complex and distant realms, and demonstrate also that facility planning should include focused regional location analysis.

Will 2015 see the emergence of a Diamond Age of Microelectronics?

The Next Big Future - Nov. 25, 2014

AKHAN has exclusive rights to a suite of breakthrough diamond-based semiconductor inventions developed by nanoscientist Ani Sumant of Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

With the licensing agreement, AKHAN will be able to exclusively expand the capabilities of the diamond semiconductor platform, allowing for improved performance and thermal efficiency of existing siliconbased devices. The agreement will enable and define the future of semiconductors through incorporation with other next-generation high-performance materials such as graphene, sapphire and quartz.

The licensed patent portfolio covers critical semiconductor processes such as deposition, which is the process of growing a layer of polycrystalline diamond on a semiconductor wafer, as well as doping, which refers to the process of intentionally introducing impurities into an extremely pure semiconductor in order to modulate its electrical properties. The portfolio also covers the formation of circuit elements such as transistors, capacitors and resistors, which are then connected to form complex circuits, such as logic devices and microelectromechanical systems. Finally, the patents include the integration of electronic circuits that are built on a single semiconductor base material or single chip.

The agreement is the second licensing deal between Argonne and AKHAN and represents the result of more than two years of collaboration between the two organizations. Previously, the two organizations combined Argonne’s low-temperature diamond deposition technology with AKHAN’s novel doping process, which has begun to enable the next generation of energy efficient semiconductor devices.

AKHAN Technologies, Inc is the global leader in diamond semiconductor technology. In addition to pioneering the world's most efficient n-type diamond material, AKHAN has made substantial advancements to the diamond semiconductor platform, uniquely enabling it for wide spread commercialization in microelectronics. Welcome to the "Diamond Age of Microelectronics

They are developing a way to make diamond microprocessors from industrial diamond. The chips can be thinner and require less energy.

The primary aim of AKHAN SEMI is the development and manufacture of next generation Nanocrystalline (NCD) based materials and devices. AKHAN SEMI's IP portfolio combines AKHAN's breakthrough Miraj Diamond(TM) portfolio with revolutionary low temperature diamond deposition technology developed by gonne National Laboratory's Center for Nanoscale Materials;-- resulting in the world's most advanced diamond semiconductor platform.

Argonne announces new licensing agreement with AKHAN Semiconductor

Research & Development Magazine - Nov. 19, 2014

Jared Sagoff


ARGONNE, Ill. — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has announced a new intellectual property licensing agreement with AKHAN Semiconductor, continuing a productive public-private partnership that will bring diamond-based semiconductor technologies to market.

The agreement gives AKHAN exclusive rights to a suite of breakthrough diamond-based semiconductor inventions developed by nanoscientist Ani Sumant of Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

With the licensing agreement, AKHAN will be able to exclusively expand the capabilities of the diamond semiconductor platform, allowing for improved performance and thermal efficiency of existing siliconbased devices. The agreement will enable and define the future of semiconductors through incorporation with other next-generation high-performance materials such as graphene, sapphire and quartz.

The licensed patent portfolio covers critical semiconductor processes such as deposition, which is the process of growing a layer of polycrystalline diamond on a semiconductor wafer, as well as doping, which refers to the process of intentionally introducing impurities into an extremely pure semiconductor in order to modulate its electrical properties. The portfolio also covers the formation of circuit elements such as transistors, capacitors and resistors, which are then connected to form complex circuits, such as logic devices and microelectromechanical systems. Finally, the patents include the integration of electronic circuits that are built on a single semiconductor base material or single chip.

The agreement is the second licensing deal between Argonne and AKHAN and represents the result of more than two years of collaboration between the two organizations. Previously, the two organizations combined Argonne’s low-temperature diamond deposition technology with AKHAN’s novel doping process, which has begun to enable the next generation of energy efficient semiconductor devices.

“This agreement represents a stellar example of how Argonne is partnering with industry to move our technology into the marketplace,” said Argonne Director Dr. Peter Littlewood. “The investment that the American people continue to make in basic science continues to pay dividends in marketable technologies that have the potential to transform entire industries.”

“We’re thrilled to take the next step in bringing diamond semiconductors to the market in a scalable way,” said Adam Khan, CEO and founder of AKHAN Semiconductor. “Our exclusive license for these patents positions AKHAN Semiconductor very favorably in the next-generation semiconductor market.”

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Argonne National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

Why Diamonds May Be the Key to a Smaller, Thinner iPhone

Bloomberg - Nov. 16, 2014
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AKHAN Technologies is developing a way to make microprocessors from industrial diamonds that can be thinner and require less energy. Bloomberg's Sam Grobart reports from the Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago for "The Year Ahead: 2015" series.

Tech company eyeing Gurnee strikes exclusive agreement with Argonne National Laboratory

Daily Herald - Nov. 12, 2014

Bob Susnjara


Federal officials have granted an exclusive licensing agreement for diamond semiconductor technology to a company that wants to move to Gurnee.

Representatives for AKHAN Semiconductor Inc. announced Tuesday the deal was reached with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. Under the agreement with Argonne, AKHAN is expected gain a competitive advantage by becoming the first U.S. company to fully develop its cutting-edge diamond semiconductor process.

"We actually intend to go into production once the Gurnee facility goes online," company founder Adam Khan said.

AKHAN Semiconductor was launched by Khan in 2012 and has had a partnership with Argonne to develop a platform using the diamond film as semiconductors for the aviation, defense, telecommunication and power industries. It is a subsidiary of AKHAN Technologies Inc. in Hoffman Estates, which Khan started in 2007.

Khan said smartphone users would appreciate the diamond technology because chips with it don't overheat and use less energy than silicon. Diamond film also could be used to make the devices more scratch resistant.

Argonne Director Peter Littlewood was bullish on the exclusive deal with AKHAN.

"This agreement represents a stellar example of how Argonne is partnering with industry to move our technology into the marketplace," Littlewood said in a statement. "The investment that the American people continue to make in basic science continues to pay dividends in marketable technologies that have the potential to transform entire industries."

Khan said there are "a lot of moving parts" before a proposed incentive package to bring his business to Gurnee goes before the village board for a vote. Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik asked other local governments serving the village to participate in the deal.

In all, Warren Township High School District 121, Woodland Elementary District 50, Warren Township, the Gurnee Park District, village government and Lake County would provide a combined $2.3 million in tax incentives to AKHAN over five years. The local money would be on top of about $3.5 million available to AKHAN through an agreement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

AKHAN would locate its corporate headquarters, manufacturing, and research and development in a 120,000-square-foot building west of the Tri-State Tollway that another company is vacating. AKHAN intends to bring all 54 employees to Gurnee if an agreement is struck, with a pledge to create 80 jobs within two years because of explosive growth projected.

Funds gained through the tax incentives would be used to to help relocate and expand the corporate and manufacturing headquarters, according to AKHAN. The company estimates it would make a $15 million investment in northern Illinois.

Gurnee as possible new-job site - Warren alum to create jobs

My Suburban Life - Oct. 2, 2014

SUBURBAN LIFE MEDIA


GURNEE – Gov. Pat Quinn announced last month that his administration will support a proposed $15 million investment in Northern Illinois by AKHAN Semiconductor, which specializes in diamond technology.

Considering Gurnee for its headquarters, AKHAN would receive tax credit assistance and investment from the state worth about $3.5 million. The company has pledged to create 80 jobs in two years, with the potential for more, according to a news release issued by the state.

AKHAN founder Adam Khan is a Warren Township High School graduate. Khan visited the school Oct. 1 with Sen. Melinda Bush (D-31), Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik, and renowned scientists, to conduct diamond experiments.

Khan said the company "looks forward to creating new opportunities in production, research and design for years to come."

The Investment announcement is part of Quinn's stated agenda to create jobs and drive the state's economy forward.

"Illinois has placed a strong emphasis on technology and innovation to help fuel our economic comeback," Quinn said. "We are glad to work with and support such forward-thinking companies like AKHAN that are creating high-paying jobs and bringing 21st century technologies to our state."

AKHAN, which is expanding its domestic and international operations, stated it would use funds to help relocate and expand its corporate and manufacturing headquarters in Illinois, the release says.

"Illinois is in AKHAN's DNA," Khan said. "Born at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and grown in northern Illinois for nearly eight years, we're thrilled to be taking the first steps to making a permanent home where we continue to build our business quickly, with all the local resources we need at our disposal."

Through the use of diamond lattice technology, AKHAN focuses on the commercial use of diamond-based electronic devices and is developing a product line to faster serve supercomputers, advanced aviation and satellite technology, radar communication and nextgeneration telecommunications needs, the release says.

AKHAN estimates it may employ 250 people within three years. In exchange, the company would receive a credit worth $3 million against its state income tax liability over 10 years, per the state's Economic Development for a Growing Economy program. AKHAN would also receive a $500,000 investment toward relocation costs and a $40,000 investment to train new hires.

Khan founded AKHAN Technologies in 2007. AKHAN Semiconductor was formed in 2012.

Kovarik said the town is an ideal home for high-tech headquarters, with its "well-educated workforce, central location and high quality of life."

Hoffman Estates tech firm could move to Gurnee

Daily Herald - Sept. 17, 2014

Bob Susnjara


Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik is seeking support from other local taxing agencies for a combined $2.3 million package of proposed financial incentives to a Hoffman Estates semiconductor company that supporters say could lead to a version of Silicon Valley in the village.

If approved, the $2.3 million local financial assistance for AKHAN Semiconductor Inc. to move to Gurnee would be on top of about $3.5 million available through an agreement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

AKHAN's founder and chief executive officer, Adam Khan, said he intends to bring all 54 of his company's employees from Hoffman Estates and California to Gurnee by year's end if a deal if struck, with plans to create up to 250 jobs within three years.

AKHAN would bring its corporate headquarters, manufacturing, and research and development to a 120,000-square-foot building west of the Tri-State Tollway. Kenall Manufacturing, which has produced high-quality lighting products in Gurnee for 26 years, is leaving the building for a larger facility in Kenosha, allowing room for 400 employees and the creation of 350 new jobs under an incentive package granted by Wisconsin.

Kovarik led a special village board meeting Tuesday night regarding the possibility of bringing AKHAN Semiconductor Inc. to fill Kenall's space in Gurnee. Elected officials from other taxing agencies that must approve the proposed deal -- such as Warren Township High School District 121 and the Gurnee Park District -- attended the session.

Kovarik said she hopes to receive quick approval from District 121, the park district, Woodland Elementary District 50 and Warren Township government so the Gurnee village board can vote on the financial incentives for AKHAN at an October meeting. She said AKHAN would bring high-paying jobs and younger residents, and likely attract complementary technology companies to the area.

"This is a meaningful investment that positions us extremely well for the next few decades to be the area with the new leader in technology to replace today's aging semiconductors," she said. "Similar to Silicon Valley, we think this will become the Diamond Prairie."

AKHAN Semiconductor was launched in 2012 and has a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory to develop a platform using diamonds as semiconductors for the aviation, defense, telecommunication and power industries. It is a subsidiary of AKHAN Technologies Inc., which Khan started in 2007.

Khan, 30, a Gurnee native, said smartphone users would appreciate the diamond technology because it uses less energy than silicon.

"In terms of power efficiency, it's about 30 percent more efficient because none of that energy is lost," Khan said. "But above and beyond that, what it means is that during operation, that chip doesn't overheat, so your cellphones won't be the same level of temperature. They'll be a little bit cooler because the heat will be more effectively translated out of the chip."

To bring AKHAN into Gurnee, Lake County would contribute a maximum of $500,000 and the village $1.5 million over five years. The money would be contingent on AKHAN's performance, but the criteria were not made public.

School districts 50 and 121, Lake County, the Gurnee Park District and Warren Township would abate 50 percent of property taxes assessed to the new facilities for the next five years. Documents show the entire package of incentives would be worth roughly $2.3 million.

Gurnee Trustee Steve Park said the proposed incentives appear worthwhile.

"This is exactly the type of operation that makes sense for economic development," Park said.

Chip startup gets $3.5 million to keep HQ in Illinois

Chicago Business - Sept. 17, 2014

John Pletz


The state wants Gurnee to be known for computer chips as well as roller coasters and outlet stores: It's offering $3.5 million in incentives to lure a Hoffmann Estates-based semiconductor company to move its headquarters to Gurnee instead of another state.

Akhan Semiconductor says it will nearly triple its headcount to 80 employees in the next two years — mostly in research and technogy — and invest $15 million.

If it reaches those goals, the company will get $3 million in credits over 10 years to offset Illinois income taxes. Akhan also will get $500,000 for relocation costs and $40,000 on job training assistance.

Akhan has a long way to go: The wholly owned subsidiary of Akhan Technologies Inc. has 28 employees and is just beginning to enter the market. A year ago, however, it employed only three.

The company, founded by former University of Illinois at Chicago engineering and physics student Adam Khan, is chasing the next generation of computer chips. He's betting that artificial diamond film will replace silicon as the material of choice for the fastest chips.

He has licensed technology from Argonne National Laboratory, where the company was incubated, to produce the diamond.

ONGOING JOURNEY

Akhan plans to license its manufacturing-process technology for embedding circuits in diamond film to chipmakers. It also will sell them diamond-coated silicon wafers to be turned into semiconductors. Eventually, Akhan wants to manufacture finished chips.

For now, however, it's only begun licensing technology to a single customer in the aerospace and defense industry. Mr. Khan, Akhan's CEO, declined to name the customer. He says his first wafer customer is University of Wisconsin-Parkside, near Kenosha, which so far is only committed to evaluating his product.

Akhan started out in 2007 as a technology-licensing play but decided two years ago to become a manufacturing company. That's an expensive proposition, even if it contracts out production. Akhan has raised $15 million so far, primarily from Heller Industries Inc., a semiconductor equipment company in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Chipmakers have been worrying about the limits of silicon for more than a decade. But it's also a long shot, and Akhan isn't the only company trying to develop a diamond alternative.

"We think there's tremendous upside," said Adam Pollet, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. "The potential for the technology to be disruptive to our existing product base is exciting. On that basis, we'd want them here and growing."

Incentives lure Gurnee native's tech firm to his hometown

Lake County NewsSun - Sept. 16, 2014

Frank Abderholden
[email protected] | @abderholden
Sept. 16 6:35 p.m.


What is a diamond lattice technology?

According to AKHAN, diamond semiconductors have the ability to pass tremendous heat through electronic devices without causing damage.

Silicon semiconductors, the current technology, overheats easier, causing devices to fail and end up in landfills. AKHAN says its use of diamonds, which are considered among the best semiconductor materials, will help eliminate electronic waste and improve the use of electronics.

Diamond can conduct heat 22 times better than silicon and five times better than copper, according to AKHAN. AKHAN Semiconductor estimates a market of more than $3.3 billion for its products, based on third-party market research and analysis.

A company that is pioneering diamond semiconductor technology has announced intentions to relocate to Gurnee, invest $15 million into its local operation and create 80 new jobs with the possibility of 170 more within three years.

Hoffman Estates-based AKHAN Technologies is eyeing Gurnee for its AKHAN Semiconductor operations — partly because the company's founder grew up in the village.

"Gurnee is unique for our needs," said Adam Khan, the founder and CEO of the company that reflects his name.

He expressed excitement to join a local corporate economy that boasts Motorola, Abbvie, Baxter and Freescale Semiconductor in Libertyville.

On Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn announced that his administration will assist AKHAN with a state investment worth about $3.5 million. Additional local incentives are still being negotiated, with Gurnee

Mayor Kristina Kovarik and state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-31st, of Grayslake, saying the proposal would bring highly-skilled jobs to boost the Lake County economy.

"The State of Illinois has placed a strong emphasis on technology and innovation to help fuel our economic comeback," the governor said in a news release. "We are glad to work with and support such forward-thinking companies like AKHAN Semiconductor that are creating high-paying jobs and bringing 21st century technologies to our state."

Khan said the move to his hometown would help AKHAN create new opportunities in production, research and design.

At Warren High School, Khan played in the school band and on the tennis team. During his senior year, he acted in a number of school productions.

"It has a great quality of life and a great educational system," Khan said of Gurnee and its schools. "I did a little bit of everything."

After high school, Khan went to the University of Illinois at Chicago to study physics and electrical engineering. He completed graduate work at the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility at Stanford University.

The 30-year-old currently splits time living in San Francisco and with his family in Gurnee.

Back in his hometown, Khan was scheduled to address the Gurnee Economic Development Commission at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16. The meeting agenda called for a discussion about local incentives to move the business to Gurnee, with a possible location in the Tri State Parkway commercial and industrial park off Grand Avenue near Interstate-94.

While AKHAN is expanding both its domestic and international operations, Khan said the state funds would be used to strengthen the company's local footprint.

"Illinois is in AKHAN Semiconductor's DNA," said Kahan, explaining that the company was "born" at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, which occupies 1,500 wooded acres about 25 miles southwest of Chicago.


Khan said his business has been growing in northern Illinois for nearly eight years.

"We're thrilled to be taking the first steps to make a permanent home where we continue to build our business quickly, with all the local resources we need at our disposal," he said.

AKHAN uses diamond lattice technology for the commercial use of diamond-based electronic devices. According to a company news release, AKHAN is currently developing a product line that aims to serve faster computers, advanced aviation and satellite technology, advanced radar communication and nextgeneration telecommunication needs.

The initial research behind AKHAN's devices was performed at Argonne, and the two organizations pioneered new production and diamond processing technology.

"Argonne's research collaboration with AKHAN has played a key role in bringing these new technologies into the marketplace, and we are very proud that our work is driving the creation of new manufacturing jobs here in Illinois," said Peter Littlewood, director of Argonne National Laboratory.

AKHAN Semiconductor was formed in 2012 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AKHAN Technologies Inc., which was founded by Khan in 2007. In 2012, AKHAN Semiconductor patented its Miraj Diamond Platform, a breakthrough energy-efficient semiconductor technology developed at Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials, according to an AKHAN news release.

Under its grant agreement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, AKHAN will invest at least $15 million and create at least 80 jobs in two years. The company estimated that it might employ 250 people within three years.

In exchange, the company would get a credit worth an estimated $3 million over 10 years against its state income tax obligations. The credit under the state's Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE program, is available to companies weighing an investment in Illinois against sites elsewhere. AKHAN also will receive $500,000 toward relocation costs and $40,000 to train its new hires.

"Gurnee is an ideal home for a high-tech headquarters, with its well-educated workforce, central location and high quality of life," Mayor Kovarik said. "AKHAN Semiconductor has an opportunity to stay close to home, which I wholeheartedly support. I hope to make Gurnee AKHAN Semiconductor's home for years to come."

State Sen. Bush said the state needed to jump on the opportunity of keeping a company that was created in Illinois.

"The permanent addition of AKHAN Semiconductor – a clear leader in the next generation semiconductor field – reminds others that a variety of advanced technology industries can thrive in Illinois," she said.

The Gurnee Economic Development Committee invited the Gurnee Village Board, Woodland School District 50, Warren Township High School District 121, the Gurnee Park District, Warren Township and community members to participate in Tuesday night's meeting.

A New Diamond Age - Developing the Next Generation of Computer Chips

WTTW Chicago Tonight - Jan. 28, 2014
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We meet local scientist and entrepreneur Adam Khan to talk about his latest invention that he hopes will usher in a new diamond age of electronics that will make the silicon chip obsolete.