Colin Bulthaup, 26
Developed new fabrication methods that could slash the cost of chip manufacturing
There has to be a cheaper way to make computer chips, and Colin Bulthaup thinks he has found it. Current manufacturing involves multibillion-dollar fabrication plants that use time-consuming photolithography methods to painstakingly etch features onto semiconductor microchips. But as an MIT grad student, Bulthaup developed a method that uses a liquid embossing system to directly print patterns of inorganic semiconductors on the chips. And because the technique-which requires no etching- can cheaply deposit multiple layers of complex circuits, even on flexible substrates, it can be used for such applications as inexpensive electronic tags. After earning a graduate degree, Bulthaup and three partners initially raised $7 million to start Sunnyvale, CA-based Kovio, which is aiming to commercialize the technology. Bulthaup predicts his approach will cut the cost of chip manufacture but a factor of 10 and says that electronic devices made with the printing technology will be available in 2005.