Funds flow to MIOX

Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal

Tokyo Electron invests in MIOX Corp.

Tokyo Electron Ltd., a global semiconductor equipment manufacturer, has made a strategic investment in the Albuquerque water-purification firm MIOX Corp.

The amount invested remains confidential, but it reflects Tokyo Electron’s interest in a new industrial water disinfection process being developed by MIOX, MIOX President and CEO Craig Beckman told the

Journal

on Tuesday.

“It allows them privileged access to learn more about water technologies that could be applied in their industry,” Beckman said. “Their customers have been asking about how they can be more efficient with water and how to treat it more effectively in an environmentally friendly manner. So it’s a strategic investment for them to better serve their customers.”

Water purity is critical in the semiconductor industry, where contamination even at the nanoscale could impact chip performance.

“For them, it’s a matter of how low they can get contamination levels, because the benchmarks keep changing as chips get narrower and narrower,” Beckman said. “It’s at the point where even one sodium molecule in the lines on a chip could theoretically short-circuit it.”

Tokyo Electron, which reported about $4.93 billion in net sales worldwide in 2012, invested in MIOX through its corporate investment arm, TEL Venture Capital Inc.

“We believe it will be beneficial to learn more about water treatment and the industry’s needs,” TEL Venture President Kay Enjoji said in a prepared statement. “This is an exciting investment in a company that has the leading technology in their field.”

MIOX, a venture-backed firm that launched in 1994, has developed proprietary technology that uses a mix of water and salt shot with an electric current to treat drinking water and water used in commercial and industrial operations. The electric mix helps separate salt into its component parts, sodium and chloride. The resulting oxidant solution is poured into the water, where the chloride destroys common pathogens, eliminating the need for chemicals used in other systems.

Beckman said Tokyo Electron’s investment is related to efforts by MIOX to combine its technology with ultraviolet photolysis – chemical decomposition through interaction with light – to create more advanced disinfection for water not easily treated with typical oxidants. MIOX received a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant in 2011 to develop that process.