TriLumina believes it has developed more powerful chip technology
[caption id="attachment_29722" align="alignright" width="357" caption="TriLumina founders Rudi Wiedermann, Kevin Lear, John Joseph and Richard Neumann"][/caption]
SANTA ROSA and RENO -- A group of Sonoma County investors and Nevada laser scientists may be sitting on a major advance in laser technology.
TriLumina, with a dual presence in Santa Rosa and Reno, is delving into the esoteric world of semiconductor-level laser diodes, digital and ganged laser arrays and epitaxial wafer architecture.
The aim is to build a platform for the deployment of next generation laser chips, capable of speeds and power far greater than today’s laser chips, yet with a smaller footprint.
“We already have a prototype in the lab and we’re six to nine months away from actual deployment. This is the most exciting project I’ve ever been involved in,” said Trilumina’s major investor Richard Neumann, a Sonoma County entrepreneur who has also held financial positions at Henkel, Fibex and California Gold Dairy Products.
As is often the case with innovative technology, the idea behind the TriLumina platform evolved from a single-use project.
Nuclear physicist Rudi Wiedemann and Stanford electrical engineering Ph.D Kevin Lear started to build a high-end laser video projection display, then realized their technology could support a much broader range of applications.
High-end laser optics are used in medicine, fiber optic telecommunications, industrial machining, defense and entertainment, among other industries.
“What we’re building will be used by companies like JDS Uniphase, Raydiance and telecom equipment makers,” said Mr. Neumann.
The company has applied for eight patents on the technology, and intends to file for six to eight more within the year.
TriLumina is not alone working in advancing laser technology. Princeton Optronics is doing something similar with laser diode technology.
“They’re using the same type of laser we are, but the technology behind it is different. We think ours is better,” said Mr. Neumann.
Also on board at TriLumina are chief engineer John Joseph, with expertise in the design and fabrication of ultra-fast laser arrays, and investor Cindy Brillhart-True of True Financial Services in Sonoma.
An actress, Ms. Brillhart-True had been aware of TriLumina in its early manifestation as a laser projector developer.
“When they made the switch to building a platform technology I saw an opportunity to become a part of a revolutionary technology,” she said.
Mr. Neumann and Ms. Brillhart, with other private investors, put up about $500,000 in seed money. TriLumina is now in talks with major capital investment firms to raise a series A of about $3.5 million.
Currently the company, with four core employees and about six advisers, is split between Santa Rosa, where its CFO and investors are located, and Reno, where the scientific team lives. A final location has not been decided on.
“The progress we’ve made in just one year is amazing, when you consider the uncertainty of the economy,” said Mr. Neumann. “Each of us is putting a major effort into getting this technology to market.”