UNT Chemistry professor Dr. Oliver Chyan recently received $157,000, the largest royalty distribution to date for commercialized technology developed by a UNT researcher. His new wafer characterization technology -- which will revolutionize how chips are manufactured and lead to smaller chips and faster computing times -- was licensed through UNT's Office of Innovation and Commercialization. to a major chip designer and manufacturer for use in microchip research and development.
In his laboratory, Dr. Chyan developed the novel method that allows microchip manufacturers to detect flaws in their chips. He realized that chip failure is not just an engineering problem but also a chemistry problem. At the nano scale, chemical reactions that do not happen on the macro scale do take place between atoms. These reactions occur directly between molecules of different materials where they come in contact with one another.
"The chemical bonding process is fragile," Dr. Chyan says. "If the materials are not compatible, or there is a foreign material introduced into the chip's creation, the chip will not work. Through highly sensitive infrared spectroscopy, it is possible to see which chemical bonds succeed and which fail. This gives chip makers the ability to focus their designs using reliable hard data rather than trial and error."
New technology developed by researchers at UNT are disclosed to the Office of Innovation and Commercialization. If researchers and the office's staff determine that the technology has commercial potential, the intellectual property often is protected with patents. Dr. Chyan's method was patented by UNT and licensed for nonexclusive commercial use. OIC is working on additional licenses of this technology to other chip designers and the manufacturers of these complex devices used during chip research and development.
Licensing helps innovation reach the market and benefit society while growing UNT's research capacity. Licensing fees first compensate UNT for patenting expenses and related costs, and remaining royalties are shared equally between the university and faculty inventors. The university's share is reinvested in growing research at UNT.
UNT has seen a record number of intellectual property disclosures, issued patents and commercial licenses executed in 2019. As UNT's research enterprise continues to grow, the Office of Innovation and Commercialization looks forward to more successful licenses, growth in royalties and increased economic development.
"We are excited to take another step forward for UNT by generating this significant royalty for Dr. Chyan and UNT," says Michael Rondelli, associate vice president for innovation and commercialization. "Every day, we are motivated by how fast the UNT community has embraced commercialization, allowing us to surpass all expected metrics in comparison to our peer research institutions. Because UNT has such a broad area of subject matter experts, the research allows us to impact so many different industries with our technologies."