How This Startup Cut Production Costs of Millimeter Wave Power Amplifiers

Diana Gamzina is on a mission to drastically reduce the price of millimeter-wave power amplifiers. The vacuum-electronics devices are used for communication with distant space probes and for other applications that need the highest data rates available.

The amplifiers can cost as much as US $1 million apiece because they’re made using costly, high-precision manufacturing and manual assembly. Gamzina’s startup, Elve, is using advanced materials and new manufacturing technologies to lower the unit price.

It can take up to a year to produce one of the amplifiers using conventional manufacturing processes, but Elve is already making about one per week, Gamzina says. Elve’s process enables sales at about 10 percent of the usual price, making large-volume markets more accessible.

Launched in June 2020, the startup produces affordable systems for wireless connections that deliver optical fiber quality, or what Gamzina calls elvespeed connectivity. The company’s name, she says, refers to atmospheric emission of light and very low frequency perturbations due to electromagnetic pulse sources. Elves can be seen as a flat ring glowing in Earth’s upper atmosphere. They appear for just a few milliseconds and can grow to be up to 320 kilometers wide.

Based in Davis, Calif., Elve employs 12 people as well as a handful of consultants and advisors.

For her work with amplifiers, Gamzina, an IEEE senior member, was recognized with this year’s Vacuum Electronics Young Scientist Award from the IEEE Electron Devices Society. She received the award in April at the IEEE International Vacuum Read more