Menlo Microsystem, Inc. recently announced it raised $44 million in a Series B funding round. The firm, which is a spin-off of General Electric (GE), has developed new electronic components with revolutionary potential. Its core microelectromechanical system (MEMS) offerings are 99 percent smaller, lighter, and more efficient than conventional switches.
The Irvine, California-based startup plans to spend its new capital on product development and scaling up its manufacturing process.
A 21st Century MEMS Solution
Because of widespread digitalization, electronics components are now a ubiquitous part of modern life. Tiny integrated circuits (ICs) have allowed for the advent of smartphones, satellites, and a range of medical devices. Unfortunately, even the most advanced parts have their limitations. Cutting-edge mobile chipsets let handsets stream 4K games, but they go through battery life like Batman goes through eye shadow.
The problem is contemporary electronics switches cannot match the performance of today’s high-end processors. Thankfully, Menlo Micro has found a solution in the form of its Ideal Switches.
The four-year-old startup’s MEMS are a fraction of the size and weight of current solid-state switches and electromagnetic relays. Despite their discreet form factor, its devices have sub-microsecond switching times and are robust enough to complete billions of operations.
The firm’s radio frequency (RF) products also offer incredible linearity of over 85dMb and consume less than 1mW of power.
In practical terms, Menlo Micro’s switches can make 5G networks better, smartphone batteries last longer, and medical instruments more precise.
What Happens Next
In the last 2 ½ years, the startup has significantly upgraded its production process. The firm went from making its offerings in a 4-inch research facility to using a high volume 8-inch manufacturing line. It also qualified its product apparatus so it will be able to put out 100,000 units per month by year’s end.
By 2021, Menlo Micro aims to manufacture millions of Ideal Switches monthly.
The startup has also whetted its potential customers’ appetite by sending out samples to over 30 leading organizations in the aerospace and defense testing and measurement, and telecom industries. The company hopes to develop its technology further to break into other fields. Specifically, it sees applications for its MEMS in the electric vehicle, quantum computing, and industrial Internet of things (IIoT) sectors.
Because of innovative work, the company secured the backing of GE and Corning. In its first Series A round, it raised $18.7 million in outside capital. As it offers products that could truly revolutionize several fields, it secured more than $62 million in outside funding. Once it begins mass production, Menlo Micro will likely receive investment offers that make those sums look like peanuts.