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July 12, 1990

CONDUCTUS INAUGURATES PLANT TO MAKE SUPERCONDUCTOR CHIPS

By CBR Staff Writer

While exploitation of new technologies is always the province of the industrial giants in Japan, it is equally certain that the US flag-bearers will be venture capital funded start-ups, and so it has proved with the application of high temperature superconducting ceramics to the fabrication of chips. Holding out the hope of super-fast circuits for computers, telecommunications equipment, satellite vision systems and medical scanners, Conductus Inc, formed in 1987, and funded to the tune of only $11.5m so far, was yesterday scheduled to inaugurate its plant in Sunnyvale, California. The company is getting by with used semiconductor fabrication equipment, but its secret is the equipment it has developed for ceramic vapour deposition. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has already shipped experimental parts to one of its shareholders, Hewlett-Packard Co, and is in talks with the National Aeronautics & Space Administration about using its chips in a mission to study Saturn’s clouds – its easier to cool superconductors down to their working temperature in space. Conductus at present has capacity for only 25,000 circuits a year, but it says it may expand that if demand justifies: itlooks to move into profits by 1994.

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