call in the IQAir team. And when the Los Angeles Zoo needed help with an ailing primate, a rare Bornean orangutan with severe respiratory problems, Dolphin’s team came to the rescue.
Not your typical “science geek,” Dolphin also earned a business degree and worked vigorously to earn her lab credibility with company engineers on both sides of the pond. She is a certified air filtration specialist, which requires several years of experience. “In the U.S., the No. 1 question is how much will it cost to make a product. In Europe, it really has to be the best, but you can’t lose the game by pricing yourself out of the market,” she explains. IQAir North America posted gross revenues of $75 million in 2005 and has operated in the black since 2000.
Felix Ejeckam, 35: When it comes to innovation, Felix Ejeckam and his team are at the forefront of cutting-edge technology. As CEO of Menlo Park, California-based Group4 Labs, Ejeckam and his crew manufacture extreme semiconductor materials used by chip makers in the manufacture of consumer, industrial, and commercial electronics. The company has tapped into a sweet spot in the tech industry, developing semiconductors from “exotic materials” such as gallium nitride. With this substance, the team has developed the next-generation Gallium Nitride-on-Diamond wafer, the Xero Wafer.
The Xero Wafer is designed to withstand higher temperatures than traditional semiconductor wafers, making it more efficient and powerful than traditional transistors. “This semiconductor would be on the wishlist for any engineer trying to make the most powerful transistor or laser in the world,” he says. “We make basic and exotic materials that are the bane of the semiconductor industry,” says Ejeckam. This innovation, he predicts, will rival the silicon chip.
The scientist says the company’s initial product (and others to follow) could become a sore spot for traditional silicon manufacturers. “The materials we create are impossible for traditional semiconductor manufacturers to develop because their production facilities aren’t set up to handle them,” he explains. The company is now working with the National Institute of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense.
“We’re imagining those very things that our most basic laws of nature dare us to imagine,” says Ejeckman. “We’re engineering basic materials so that they do things that can’t be done with traditional technologies.”
Ejeckam and his team could change the way consumers and businesses use nearly every device-from cell phones and PCs to biotech devices and RADAR-anything that requires a chip, which, these days, is almost everything.