Sixteen years ago a group of material scientists and engineers at General Electric banded together to reinvent the circuit breaker. Now, Menlo Microsystems, the spinoff commercializing that technology, is ready to bring its revolutionary new switches to market, with huge implications for everything from 5G technologies to quantum computing.
Based in Irvine, Calif., Menlo Micro takes its name from the Menlo Park, NJ research lab where Thomas Edison patented the first light switch back in 1893 and the company’s ties to GE run deep.
Researchers at GE spent more than a decade working internally on Menlo Micro’s core technology, a novel process that applies semiconductor manufacturing techniques to the production of micro electro-mechanical systems, before spinning it out into a new business five years ago.
Using a novel alloy, Menlo Micro is able to reduce the size of the switches it makes to 50 microns by 50 microns, or roughly