Akhan Raises Funds to Boost Diamond Production

Article By : Alan Patterson

The cash infusion will be used to expand Akhan's 'Diamond Mine 1' facility.

Akhan, a manufacturer of diamond materials for the semiconductor industry, has completed a $20 million funding round with financial partners including long-standing investors.

The company will expand its facility in Gurnee, Illinois, dubbed “Diamond Mine 1,” to enhance manufacturing capabilities as the company brings commercial products to market.

Akhan claims its diamond glass is six times stronger, 10 times harder, and over 800 times cooler than leading competitors’ glass.

“Everyone is in search of the sleekest cell phone that doesn’t need to be protected by a bulky case, but that’s only the beginning,” said Akhan founder Adam Khan. “Our diamond technology has a myriad of applications.

“With the capital raised and key additions to our leadership team, we can now scale quickly to meet the rapidly increasing demand for this enabling platform.”

The company foresees the U.S. Midwest emerging as a U.S. electronics manufacturing hub due to its world-class academic institutions, growing venture capital base and relatively low cost of living. Intel recently chose Ohio as the location for a $20 billion chip fab.

Akhan has plans for additional fundraising, with no schedule established. Akhan plans to make semiconductor materials the focus of its product development.

“The Akhan diamond platform has many applications, and semi has longer development and insertion times, so Miraj Diamond glass is the major focus due the most imminent timing from a market impact standpoint,” Khan said in an interview.

In 2014, the U.S. Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory near Akhan’s Illinois facility announced an IP licensing agreement with the company as part of a public-private partnership aimed at commercializing diamond-based semiconductor technologies.

Akhan has been manufacturing 12-inch wafers using a CMOS diamond technology at its facility since last year.

Diamond is a candidate to replace some special materials such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride in semiconductor applications for military and aerospace, Khan noted in an interview last year.

Operating in high-temperature, high-power environments is a basic requirement for new materials needed to extend the performance of silicon. Khan also sees new applications for diamond CMOS in the much larger automotive sector, with its own demands for operation in stressful, high-power applications.

Executive hires

In addition to the funding round, Akhan announced the hiring of Craig Mitchell as CEO and John Thode as COO and president. The two bring experience in supply chain development, manufacturing and IP licensing.

Mitchell previously served as president of Invensas and general manager of the semiconductor IP business at Xperi, a consumer and entertainment licensing company. “I know through firsthand experience developing and licensing technologies over 30 years that this type of game-changing technology is rare and very special,” said Mitchell.

With a focus on diamond display glass for consumer, automotive, military and industrial applications, Mitchell and Thode will also oversee Akhan’s strategic growth and capital investments.


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