Located in Champaign, IL, EpiWorks is a semiconductor technology company that spun out of the late Professor Greg Stillman’s research lab at MNTL. Stillman founded the company in 1997 with two of his graduate students, David Ahmari (PhD EE 1998) and Quesnell Hartmann (PhD EE 1998), who had developed novel material deposition techniques and designs for high-performance III-V epitaxial devices.
Today, EpiWorks, which is led by Ahmari and Hartmann, is developing the next generation of infrastructure for communications, data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) backbone. The company designs and manufactures III-V semiconductor wafers for RF applications such as smartphones and tablets and photonics applications such as data centers and mobile photonics. With expertise in both device design and crystal growth, EpiWorks’ engineers tailor a wafer’s atomically thin layers for each customer’s specific needs, thus optimizing device performance.
According to Ahmari, EpiWorks executive vice president, the company employs 65 and is aggressively hiring additional engineers and technicians. In the spring of 2015, the company expanded its MOCVD production capacity, increasing the ability to produce high volumes of 4-inch and 6-inch wafers for all of its products. These include VCSELs, edge-emitting lasers, detectors, BiHEMTs, HBTs, pHEMTS and photovoltaics.
Over the years, EpiWorks has maintained collaborative ties to MNTL. In the early 2000s, EpiWorks grew wafers for Professors Milton Feng and Nick Holonyak Jr. “The transistor laser was made from our materials,” noted Ahmari, referring to the groundbreaking device that produces electrical amplification and stimulated emission simultaneously.
More recently EpiWorks has grown material for resident MNTL faculty member John Dallesasse and MNTL affiliate faculty member John Rogers.
“We made the commitment a long time ago to stay here, and we got a lot of support from Greg and the university,” said Ahmari, recalling the company’s early days of performing proof of concept work at MNTL. “In return we promised to try our hardest to stay here, so that’s what we did. Our goal is to help build a critical mass so the University of Illinois would be a hub for not just semiconductor research, but also for commercialization and production.”
NOTE: In January 2016, EpiWorks was acquired by II-VI Incorporated, a Pittsburgh-based global leader in semiconductor lasers. EpiWorks continues to operate as a separate, but wholly-owned division of II-VI and remains in Champaign.