SARASOTA, FL--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sunovia Energy Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: SUNV) and EPIR Technologies, Inc. (EPIR) are pleased to announce the establishment of a joint cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and BAE Systems (BAE).
Sunovia and EPIR have exclusively partnered to commercialize solar and infrared (IR) technologies for the renewable energy and night vision markets. IR and solar technologies are very similar, with IR being a much more precise and complex science. IR devices absorb non-visible light, convert the light to electricity and then 'pixelize' the electricity to create an image; while solar devices absorb visible light, convert the light to electricity and then store (or spend) the electricity. EPIR's superior IR expertise is allowing them to transfer IR technology directly into the development of advanced next generation solar cells. The companies are working to combine numerous IR and solar II-VI material layers in order to achieve maximum light absorption from the different light intensities and different light spectra.
Sunovia is the exclusive marketer of all products, technologies and intellectual properties that are developed by EPIR, and currently owns a significant equity interest in EPIR. EPIR is a world leader in research and development for materials and devices related to IR detection and imaging utilized in night vision, missile tracking, exploration in space and other applications. In particular, EPIR and the Microphysics Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, both under the leadership of Dr. Siva Sivananthan, the president of EPIR, have pioneered the growth of mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) for over 20 years. MCT is the leading material for IR detection and imaging and is one of the most important semiconductors along with silicon (Si) and gallium arsenide in terms of worldwide investment.
The current state-of-the-art MCT materials are typically grown on bulk cadmium zinc telluride (CdZnTe) substrates using a technique called liquid phase epitaxy (LPE). The bulk CdZnTe substrates are very expensive, have limited scalability, and are very fragile. As a result, the overall materials cost becomes expensive and processing yields are low. This also restricts the scalability of the array form factor and creates a technology barrier to the manufacture of wide angle panoramic IR cameras, which are essential for the U.S. night vision surveillance capability.
The CRADA is designed to develop EPIR's MCT process on more commercially viable and scalable Si substrates. This CRADA resulted from a long-term collaboration between EPIR and ARL under the leadership of Dr. Herbert Pollehn, deputy director of the Army's Electro-Optics and Photonics Division. Dr. Pollehn said, "EPIR is focused on developing MBE MCT materials technology on Si substrates, and the CRADA offers an opportunity to bring a government laboratory and BAE Systems, a large defense contractor, together with EPIR to develop this scalable and low-cost technology. This technology will enable large format IR focal plane array development, which is necessary for the Army to dominate the night. The CRADA also infuses a synergy to rapidly transition critical technology to the manufacturers and back into the hands of the warfighters."
The CRADA is to qualify MCT material grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) at EPIR for use in the production of IR detectors and read-out integrated circuit chips for IR cameras by BAE Systems. BAE Systems is a supplier of high performance IR detectors and imagers to the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security and to civilian customers. Their current IR technology is based on material grown by the conventional LPE technology. Most future high performance IR detectors and imagers will require the precise material control and reproducibility at an atomic level that is offered only by MBE technology.
Specifically, the CRADA is designed to insert test samples of MCT material grown by MBE at EPIR into the production line at BAE Systems and to evaluate and optimize the material and processing, based on device performance results. EPIR will grow and completely characterize and document the material and its growth parameters. ARL will perform any device processing unique to MBE grown material that BAE Systems is not now equipped to do. BAE Systems will insert the material received from ARL into its production line and characterize the performance of the completed devices. Both the growth and the processing will be optimized to obtain maximum device performance and EPIR will develop specifications for its material based on the device characterizations to be performed by BAE Systems. The companies plan to use the CRADA to become a major U.S. supplier of MBE grown MCT to BAE Systems for IR detector and focal plane array production and for the ARL processing technology to be transferred to BAE Systems. This will be an important step in Sunovia's goal of becoming the primary supplier of MCT material to the entire defense industry—a goal which they believe is already well underway.
About Sunovia Energy Technologies
Sunovia is a Sarasota, FL based renewable energy and energy conservation company that is working to develop one of the most advanced and cost effective cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cell technologies ever created. Sunovia is also the owner of the proprietary EvoLucia light-emitting diode (lED) lighting product line that is incredibly energy efficient. The EvoLuciaTM fixtures have received UL, CE, FCC, TUV, CSA and IP23 regulatory approvals, and are now being marketed globally.
Sunovia also owns a substantial solar and LED lighting intellectual property portfolio, and controls the exclusive marketing rights to some of the most advanced infrared, LED and biosensor technologies in the world. On March 14th, 2008, the companies announced that they had completed the initial phase of their world class electro-optic manufacturing facilities at EPIR in Bolingbrook, IL, just west of Chicago.
About EPIR Technologies
EPIR Technologies, Inc. is one of the most advanced IR sensor and IR imaging companies in the world. EPIR's knowledge, experience and expertise in the growth of CdTe, HgCdTe and other II-VI semiconductors equals or exceeds that of any other company in the world. EPIR's prowess in this area is unmatched and has been endorsed by the award of Congressional funds for the development of a manufacturing capability for CdTe on Si and the award of a patent for growing CdTe directly on a Si readout integrated circuit. EPIR and Sunovia have a network of close collaborative relationships with the major Defense Department and industrial labs involved in IR detection and imaging, including the Army Research Laboratory, the Night Vision Electronic Sensors Directorate, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, DRS, Raytheon, Rockwell, Texas Instruments and other laboratories around the world.