mPhase is a development company specializing in microfluidics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanotechnology. Through its wholly owned subsidiary AlwaysReady, Inc., mPhase is commercializing its first nanotechnology-enabled product for military and commercial applications - The Smart NanoBattery providing Power On Command™. The new well-patented battery technology, based on the phenomenon of electrowetting, offers a unique way to store energy and manage power. Features of the Smart NanoBattery include: potentially infinite shelf life, environmentally friendly design, fast ramp to power, programmable control, and direct integration with microelectronic devices.
mPhase Technologies along with Bell Labs, jointly conducted research from February 2004 through April of 2007 that demonstrated control and manipulation of fluids on superhydrophobic and superlyophobic surfaces to create a new type of battery or energy storage device with power management features obtained by controlling the wetting behavior of a liquid electrolyte on a solid surface. The scientific research conducted set the ground work for continued development of the Smart NanoBattery and formed a path to commercialization of the technology for a broad range of market opportunities. During 2005 and 2006, the battery team tested modifications and enhancements to the internal design of the battery to optimize its power and energy density characteristics, as well as making engineering improvements that were essential in moving the battery from a zinc-based chemistry to a commercial lithium-based chemistry that can be manufactured on a large scale. The Company began its efforts by entering into a $1.2 million 12 month Development Agreement with the Bell Labs division of Alcatel/Lucent for exploratory research of control and manipulation of fluids on superhydrophobic surfaces to create power cells ( batteries) by controlling wetting behavior of an electrolyte on nanostructured electrode surfaces. The goal was to develop a major breakthrough in battery technology creating batteries with longer shelf lives as the result of no direct electrode contact (meaning no power drain prior to activation). The Company extended its development effort twice for an additional 2 years ending in March of 2007 and for two additional periods thereafter through July 31, 2007. During this time, the technical focus shifted from trying to separate the liquid electrolyte from nanostructured electrodes to developing a nanostructured membrane that could physically separate the liquid electrolyte from the solid electrodes.
mPhase also began working with the Rutgers University Energy Storage Research Group (ESRG) in July of 2005 to conduct contract research in advanced battery chemistries involving lithium. This work involved characterizing and testing materials that could be used in the mPhase battery. In July of 2007, the relationship shifted to a collaboration focused on developing a memory backup battery needed by the U.S. Army. The work was funded through a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) grant.
Also in July of 2007, mPhase formed a new wholly-owned subsidiary, Always Ready, Inc., to focus on the development of its nanotechnology products. The Company has used this subsidiary as a division of the Company in order to develop increasing brand recognition of its battery product. The Company decided in September of 2007 to transfer its development work out of Bell Labs (Alcatel/Lucent) in order to broaden its nanotechnology product commercialization efforts. In terms of the battery, Bell Labs was no longer sufficient because they had no in-house means to handle lithium chemistry. mPhase/AlwaysReady continued to work with Rutgers ESRG which could work with lithium, but also engaged in work with other companies to supply essential components, fabricate prototypes, and plan manufacturing approaches. These companies included a well-respected silicon foundry and battery manufacturer.
In February of 2008, the Company announced that a prototype of its Smart NanoBattery was successfully deployed in a gun-fired test at the Aberdeen Proving Ground at Maryland. The test was conducted by the U.S. Army Armament Research and Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) of Picatinny, New Jersey. The battery not only survived the harsh conditions of deployment at a gravitational force in excess of 45,000 g , but was also flawlessly activated in the process .
In March of 2008, mPhase announced that it had been invited to submit a proposal for a Phase II STTR grant, based upon the successful work it had performed on the Phase I grant to develop a version of the Smart NanoBattey referred to as the multi-cell, micro-array reserve battery for a critical U.S. Army memory backup application. The Phase II grant in the gross amount of $750,000 (net $500,000) was granted to the Company in the middle of September of 2008. In March of 2008, the Company also announced the successful transfer to a commercial foundry of certain processes critical to the manufacturing of its Smart NanoBattery. This will enable fabrication of the porous membranes for the multi-cell, micro-array reserve battery mentioned above. The Company successfully manufactured nanostructured membranes at the foundry that are essential to commercial production of the battery. By achieving a series of delayed activations, the shelf-life and continuous run-time of such battery is increased to a period of time in excess of twenty years. In April of 2008, the Company announced that it had successfully activated its first Smart NanoBattery prototype by electrowetting using a hard-wired configuration and a remotely-activated device. Remote activation plays a key role in providing power to wireless sensors systems and RFID tags.
Also, in April of 2008, the Company announced that it had successfully produced its first lithium-based reserve battery with a soft or pouchpackage and breakable separator (in place of the electrowettable membrane) that relies on mechanical rather than electrical activation to provide Power On Command™. The Company believes that it is a significant milestone in moving from a low energy density zinc-based battery to a higher energy density lithium-based battery towards proving that the Smart NanoBattery will eventually be economically and commercially viable.
In March of 2005, the Company entered into a second Development Agreement for 12 months at a cost of $1.2 million with the Bell Labs to develop MEMS-based ultrasensitive magnetic sensor devices, also known as magnetometers, that could be used in military and commercial electronics ( e.g., cell phones) for determining location, as well as in portable security and metal detection applications. The agreement was renewed in April of 2006 for another 12 months. Although proven to work in the lab, the magnetometer technology could not be scaled up as quickly and as cost effectively as the battery. The project was shelved in September 2007 so that all technical resources could be allocated to the battery project.
Historically, the Company since its inception has focused upon developing solutions for the delivery of Broadcast Television as part of a "triple play" of services that includes voice and high-speed internet for telephone service providers globally. Beginning in fiscal year 2004, the Company began developing Broadcast television delivery solutions through software/middleware designed to enable telephone service providers to deliver video data using internet protocol. The Company's middleware/software is highly scalable, potentially saving telephone service providers significant hardware deployment costs for routers and servers required for the carrier class delivery of broadcast television using internet protocol. Such solution potentially expands the content of available information from the internet into broadcast quality television. The Company's middleware is capable of delivering over copper, fiber, coax or any infrastructure representing a combination of the foregoing that is used by a telecommunications service provider.