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Enabling the Optical Computing Era

Moore’s Law is dead.

After more than 50 years driving explosive growth in computing, Moore’s Law is dead. With Moore’s Law gone, traditional CMOS-based chips can only get faster through increased specialization, more complexity, and higher power usage. The future of high-performance cloud computing requires chips that run much faster while using far less power.

The only viable approach: optical computing.

The birth of the optical computing era has initiated a new Moore’s Law that promises exponential performance growth for decades to come.

The future of computing is optical.

The same approach that sends light through fiber-optic cables for 100 miles without amplification now works at microprocessor scale. Optical computing processes data 1,000 times faster and using 1/100th the power of CMOS technology. Optical computing reduces data center power consumption and carbon footprints; improves communication between cores on a chip; and supports the coming 5G wireless revolution.

NLM materials enable the optical future.

Seattle-based Nonlinear Materials Corporation (NLM) has exclusively licensed proprietary materials and methods developed by University of Washington researchers to deliver “fiber-optic networks on a chip.”

In an industry first, NLM allows major chip and computer manufacturers to integrate low-power, high-speed optical computing components into existing production lines.

NLM is at the forefront, leading the way to the optical computing era.

Legacy: Copper & Fiber Optic

    Global networks of electronic devices were networked together using a combination of fiber-optic cable and copper wire to create the Internet.

Present: Fiber Optic

    Internet trunk networks and telecom networks are now operated exclusively using fiber-optic cable. Fiber-optic cable is also becoming more prevalent in datacenter network terminals and network hardware.

Initial Target: Optical Transport in Data Center

    NLM is working to extend the benefits of fiber-optics throughout the entire datacenter, including optical transport between network terminals, network hardware, and local devices. Beyond the datacenter, optical transport is also being deployed at the physical device layer within network interfaces.

Next Step: Optical Chip Interconnects

    Chip architecture will be incrementally improved by introducing electro-optic materials into CMOS semiconductors, with interconnections between the CPU, GPU and memory chips. Electro-Optic materials can also be combined with electronics within CPU and GPU chip designs.

The Future is Optical: Optical Processing

    All-optical chip designs encompassing GPU, CPU, and memory.

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NLM has signed an exclusive license for several key Electro-Optic (EO) materials patents from the University of Washington. As described in peer-reviewed articles in Science and Nature, a new combination of materials and techniques has enabled the latest EO materials to be integrated into a chip.

The result of 20 years of research and over $20 million in R&D funding, the new EO materials and integration techniques were developed in the world-renowned University of Washington Dalton-Robinson Labs.

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Internet trunk network and telecom equipment

fiber modulatorsWe expect NLM-enabled multi-Tb/s transceivers to operate at least 10 times faster than current technology, while also being less expensive, smaller, and having lower energy consumption. The global optical modulator market was $2 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $22.6 billion in 2024 driven by the availability and cost effectiveness of THz modulators.

Data center network hardware and switches

NLM-enabled transceivers and switches enable an order-of-magnitude improvement in throughput versus legacy hardware, leading to an immediate boost in the density and throughput of a data center at a significantly reduced level of power consumption. The global server/data center market is expected to be $450 billion by 2025.

High-performance computing

optical-interconnectsNLM-enabled optical interconnects will reduce the overhead of moving data between chip components enabling manufacturers to achieve significant speed and energy breakthroughs. Also, HPC manufacturers can deploy optical backplanes for faster connections using less power within a smaller form factor. The global high-performance computing (HPC) processor market was $3B in 2018 and expected to reach $8B in 2024.

5G and Satellite antennas

5G and Satellite antennasNLM-enabled phased array antennas will offer the computing power and extended bandwidth to enable 5G wireless providers to support high-speed data transmission. Also, NLM-enabled Ground Satellite Antennas will provide support to companies seeking to provide Earth-scale internet access. The global 5G market is expected to be $250B by 2025.

Optical processing – Neural nets – Machine Learning

optical-processingArrays of plasmonic MZI devices can be assembled in large logical arrays to perform high speed neural net functions, enabled by the THz speeds achievable with NLM materials, in a small footprint and at very low energy consumption.


BiosensorPlasmonic bio-sensors detect specific chemical compounds, enabling tests for ricin poisoning, E. coli bacterial contamination, and antibodies indicating vaccine effectiveness. NLM-enabled Plasmonic Bio-Sensors will allow bio-sensors to be made smaller and less expensive, to the point of being disposable. The worldwide market for bio-sensors was $1B in 2018 and is expected to reach $5B by 2025.

Other applications

Optical computing also has applications in emerging technologies and business models such as crypto-mining for blockchain, quantum computing, and uses within specialized computing devices.

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Lewis E. Johnson, Ph.D.Lewis E. Johnson, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer
11 years research experience in nanotechnology, computational chemistry, and materials design. 28 peer-reviewed papers, two patents, one co-authored textbook, and numerous conference presentations. Research Scientist in the University of Washington Department of Chemistry. Co-founder of a prior UW CoMotion-supported biotech startup. Postdoctoral research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and postdoctoral teaching/research experience at Pomona College. Dual Ph.D. in Chemistry and Nanotechnology from the University of Washington.

Gerard Zytnicki - Chief Executive OfficerGerard Zytnicki

Chief Executive Officer
30 years technology experience: definition and implementation, software engineering, innovation and design, strategy and execution. 27 years at Microsoft in products and engineering roles: General Manager in the Windows Organization, Senior Director of engineering in the Microsoft Startup Business Group and other high-level positions. Startup experience: Advisor to biotech project for the UW CoMotion incubator program; Original member Seattle Angel Fund; Senior strategic advisor to numerous startups in the Seattle area. Industry experience: Various roles in high-tech, IT, healthcare, security, biotech and consumer software solutions; Strategic advisor and consultant to heads of technology. Master’s degree in International Business from the SKEMA business school in Sophia Antipolis, France.

Paul H. Nye - Chairman and PresidentPaul H. Nye

Chairman and President
35 years technology startup experience in leading edge technologies. Partner Triad Venture Foundry incubating novel medical devices. Co-founder CEO Information Optics Corporation, a high speed optical memory company utilizing sub-micron diffractive optics, phase change materials and custom error correcting signal processing imagers. Founder and CEO of The Prime Root Company developing and patenting novel approaches to AI. Education electrical engineering, computer science and finance Montana State University.

Delwin ElderDelwin L. Elder, Ph.D.

Director of Materials Development
18 years experience in chemistry and materials science research and development. Research scientist in the University of Washington Department of Chemistry specializing in design and synthesis of organic electro-optic molecules, characterization of optical and viscoelastic properties, and thin film device fabrication for measuring EO performance. 2 years with biotech startup supported by UW CoMotion incubator program. 10 years at Air Products and Chemicals focusing on conducting polymers, lithium battery materials, surfactants, and catalysis. Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.​

Photo of Stephanie Benight Pd.D.Stephanie Benight, Ph.D.

Consulting Director of Materials Strategy
Dr. Benight is a leader in Materials. She is President and Principal Scientist of Tactile Materials Solutions, assisting clients with strategy, marketing, and technical analysis. Dr. Benight has a B.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University and a dual Ph.D. degree in Chemistry and Nanotechnology from the University of Washington. She has performed research in the areas of liquid crystals, electro-optic materials, organic electronics (e.g. sensors, transistors), semiconductors, and 3D printing, and has conducted numerous root cause and failure analysis investigations of plastics, adhesives, and coatings used in commercial products such as building materials, consumer electronics, and medical devices. Her experience includes building the supply chain for various materials and establishing processes for quality control and material validation. Dr. Benight has a demonstrated track record in building strategic partnerships and business development.​

Scott R. Hammond, Ph.D.Scott R. Hammond, Ph.D.

Director of Process Development​
Scott R. Hammond received his B.S. in Chemistry with High Honors from University of California, Berkeley in 2002. In 2007, he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Nanotechnology from the University of Washington, Seattle, working with Prof. Larry R. Dalton. Dr. Hammond served as a postdoctoral scholar for 3 years at the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), working on organic photovoltaic materials, devices, and packaging. He then served as Principal Scientist for 6 years at SolarWindow Technologies, Inc., leading all aspects of development of their proprietary semi-transparent electricity-generating coatings. Dr. Hammond has coauthored more than 20 scientific publications & book chapters, and is a named inventor on several awarded and pending U.S. and International Patents.

Photo of Michael Mrejen, Ph.D.Michael Mrejen, Ph.D.

Director of Optical Engineering
Michael Mrejen obtained his Ph.D in Applied Science and Technology (AS&T) under the supervision of Prof. Xiang Zhang at University of California, Berkeley (2015), and his M.Sc. in  Applied Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2007). He holds a B.Sc. in Optical Engineering (2003) from the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology. His interests focus on exploring ultrafast light-matter interactions in plasmonic nanostructures, Silicon Photonics and 2D materials as well as applying Machine Learning to nanophotonics. Michael Mrejen has published 17 peer-reviewed articles and holds 4 patents.