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Startup to Develop Satellite-On-A-Chip


-- An interview with Abhay Joshi of Discovery Semiconductors Inc., Ewing, NJ, by John Keller

Ewing, NJ - A new startup company that hopes to revolutionize the satellite business is searching for strategic partnerships in the military and aerospace industry to help design the world's first satellite instrument on a chip.

Abhay Joshi, president of startup discovery Semiconductors, Inc. (Ewing, NJ), says he wants to demonstrate an all-solid-state satellite that is no larger than a basketball before the end of the decade.

"We want to make small instruments that are not too complicated on a semiconductor chip that can launch on a small satellite," Joshi says. "Launch costs are per pound, so rather than a 1,000 lb. satellite, we might get something that is 10 lbs. We want to integrate more functions of a satellite on a semiconductor chip to shrink the payload in weight."

Joshi understands that building a satellite that could fit in the palm of one's hand is an exceedingly lofty goal. In fact, he admits that nine out of ten engineers he talks to say it simply cannot be done. But if he is successful, the payoffs could be enormous.

Key to his vision is a small business innovative research contract he recently won from the National Aeronautics and space Administration (NASA) to use silicon and gallium arsenide in one device to blend optical and electronic functions on the same chip. He says he will demonstrate such a device within the next six months.

"This project will tell us if we can integrate more on the same chip down the road, and be able to get a whole instrument on a chip," Joshi says. Ultimately Discovery's president says he wants to blend electronic, optical and mechanical functions -- micromachined part -- on a single chip.

Joshi says he is shying away from venture capital. "I don't want to worry quarter-to-quarter," he says.

Instead, he is looking for strategic partnerships with like-minded companies.

*Press Release published in February 1994 issue of Military & Aerospace Electronics


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