Spotlight on Lux Semiconductors and flexible silicon wafers

(NOTE: This is the first article in a five-part series spotlighting the work of the second cohort of start-ups comprising Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Innovation Crossroads” initiative. They arrived in the area in May to begin their two-year effort to further advance their early stage energy-focuses companies. will be running one article each week on these innovative companies.)

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

“We’re making a flexible version of the silicon wafer,” Shane McMahon, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lux Semiconductors, says of the technology that he is advancing as part of the second cohort in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” program.

As most readers no doubt know, silicon is the primary platform for semiconductor devices, and a wafer is a thin slice of this semiconductor material that serves as the substrate for microelectronic devices built in and over the wafer.

“The silicon wafer is currently serving as the foundation for over 90 percent of electronic devices,” McMahon explains. “It’s been a critical platform for device manufacturers.”

That said, the young entrepreneur says that “the electronics industry is now entering a new era, one that demands ultra-thin and flexible devices with more functionality and at lower cost. The silicon wafer is thick, fragile, size restricted, expensive, and can no longer meet all modern demands.”

Lux, led by McMahon and Co-Founder Graeme Housser, will deliver a new class of semiconductor substrates, ones that are flexible, large area, and low cost, to serve as a next generation platform.

Read more here!

Tennessee Valley Authority names 3 top executives

(Originally published: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Tennessee Valley Authority has a new chief operating officer, chief nuclear officer, and vice president of financial operations and performance.

Mike Skaggs, formerly executive vice president for operations, is the new chief operating officer. He will oversee Power Operations, Nuclear, Transmission & Power Supply and Generation Construction, Projects & Services, according to a news release.

Timothy Rausch, former senior vice president and chief nuclear officer for Talen Energy’s Susquehanna nuclear plant, is TVA’s new chief nuclear officer and will report to Skaggs.

Skaggs’ promotion is effective immediately. Rausch will start Oct. 15, working on the transition with outgoing Chief Nuclear Officer Mike Balduzzi, who plans to retire in spring 2019, a news release said.

Thomas Rice, formerly director of Business Planning & Analysis, has been promoted to vice president of Financial Operations & Performance, effective immediately.

Read more here.

Here’s how Tennessee plans to spend $45.8 million from the VW settlement

(Originally published: The Tennessean)

Tennessee environmental officials released a plan that outlines how the state will spend $45.8 million from the Volkswagen diesel settlement.

The plan targets emissions from school buses, city buses, freight trucks and some other vehicles. Also, it invests in electric vehicle charging stations.

Diesel engines emit relatively large amounts of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to smog, and fine particulate matter harmful to human health. By expanding the electric vehicle charging network, the state also hopes to spur growth in the auto manufacturing industry.

The Volkswagen funding in Tennessee will be available for replacing older diesel engines with alternate fuel engines running on natural gas, propane, electricity, or diesel-electric hybrid. Also, recipients could replace older diesel vehicles and equipment.

“The goal of this plan is to reduce air pollutants that negatively impact our environment and public health,” Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Shari Meghreblian said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting projects in our state that will ultimately lead to an enhanced quality of life for Tennesseans.”

Read more here.

TDEC, TDOT announce Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Award winners

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), announced today the winners of the 2018 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards. The fourth annual Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum and Expo continues today at the UT Conference Center in Knoxville.

“Sustainable transportation is an important factor in public health and the quality of our environment,” said TDEC Commissioner Dr. Shari Meghreblian. “The following award winners are being recognized for their innovative ideas to improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans, provide for a strong economy and protect our state’s natural resources.”

The Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards recognize outstanding initiatives to improve the efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of transportation systems in the state. A panel of judges selected the following entities as the 2018 winners. A full description of the winning initiatives follows.

  • Averitt Express
  • City of Chattanooga Department of Transportation
  • City of Kingsport
  • Cumberland International
  • Hamilton County Parks and Recreation
  • Hytch, LLC
  • Tennessee State Parks
  • Vanderbilt University

Read more here.

Gary Rawlings joins ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads team

(Originally published:

(If you’re interested in joining the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council as a mentor, click here.)

A well-known player in two of the Launch Tennessee-supported mentor networks has an additional assignment as of today.

Gary Rawlings begins a part-time role as a Technology Consultant working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” start-ups.

“We’ve known Gary for several years and have always been impressed with his knowledge and experience in both the corporate and start-up realms,” says Tom Rogers, ORNL’s Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development. “As we’ve grown ‘Innovation Crossroads’ to eight companies and have opened applications for six more, he’ll be a great addition to our team.”

Rawlings and his wife moved to Murfreesboro in early 2015 to be closer to two of their three children who live there. Prior to that, he had spent his weeks commuting seven hours each way from their home in Greensboro, NC to Columbus, OH where Rawlings served for six years as Vice President for Commercialization at TechColumbus, the non-profit now known as Rev1 Ventures. That work followed a more than three-decade corporate career that included nearly 24 years with Monsanto.

The Houston TX native is a mentor in programs operated by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s and Life Science Tennessee with support from Launch Tennessee. Rawlings also serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Cumberland Emerging Technologies in Nashville.