From the moment KEMET was founded in 1919, our employees were inventing new technologies. In fact, it was a patent filed by our founder Hugh S. Cooper that caught the attention of Union Carbide and made KEMET possible. In our early days, we were primarily a research and development division of our then parent company. We enabled a new era of electronics with the patented KEMET getter, which improved vacuum tubes and was critical to the success of early electronic devices such as radios and TVs.
As every new technology built upon the last, we supported the transistor age with the introduction of KEMET capacitors. Energized by our success and responding to the burgeoning markets, KEMET continued to lead in technological innovation. Read on to learn about three important eras in KEMET technology, and the applications we made possible.
This is the era where KEMET began to develop high reliability capacitors for military, space, and aerospace applications. KEMET licensed the original patent for solid tantalum capacitors from Sprague Electric. But in the early 1960s, KEMET began to innovate beyond what was licensed. The first KEMET patents for solid tantalum capacitors were US3299325A and US3337429A. The process is still in use today. The inventors were Johann S. Wagener, Roger J. Raschiotto, and Frederic F. Zind. Rachiotto was the long time technical manager of our leaded tantalum capacitor lines. He retired in 1997.
The tantalum capacitor industry as a whole was transformed by KEMET’s patent US3553805A: “Production of graded reliability capacitors.” This screening process for tantalum capacitors is still very much in use today. The military and space community established several different reliability levels for the extreme conditions the technology has to endure. This is the screening process that we use for every high reliability capacitor sold.
Long time KEMET Chief Technical Officer and member of the “Fab 14,” John Piper authored patent US3611054A with Roger J. Raschiotto, “Hermetically sealed solid electrolytic capacitor.” The “herm seal” is still in production today and is used in high reliability, military, and space applications. KEMET has more recently developed a polymer version based on KO-CAP technology.
Making the world a better, safer, more connected place to live is our mission. In 2002, a major medical manufacturer approached us to speak about using our patented technology in defibrillators, which are a lifesaving technology for people having a heart attack. Soon we were working together, and after a lengthy research, development, and approval process, we are now able to say that KEMET can help your heart to beat through an implantable medical device. Brian Melody, a giant of innovation in the capacitor industry, was the driving force behind the key patents for this project. For this life-changing work and my other innovations, both he and co-inventor Tony Kinard won the first KEMET Inventor of the Year Awards.
Related patents are US6480371: “Alkanolamine-phosphate acid anodizing electrolyte,” and US6375710: “Process for producing powder metallurgy compacts free from binder contamination and compacts produced thereby.”
At KEMET, we believe in the passion, skills, and engagement of our people. This environment makes technological growth possible. We have Innovation Centers around the world that are central to growing our business. Our people are leaders in product development, changing the industry for our customers and our business.
Demanding applications like new power conversion technologies and down hole drilling require extreme voltage and temperature stability. Through the innovations led by Dr. Abhijit Gurav and Dr. John Bultitude with John McConnell, KEMET has become dominant in the technology of Class I ceramic dielectrics. This focus on specialty ceramics was transformative for KEMET’s Ceramic division as well as our customers. Dr. Gurav develops the materials on which our ceramic capacitors are based, while Dr. Bultitude works closely with John McConnell to develop the devices that use those materials.
Dr. Bultitude has invented many, varied devices that are important to KEMET. The smallest high voltage capacitors on the market, ArcShield™️, are possible because they use a special electrode design patented for KEMET by Dr. Bultitude. Currently in production, KEMET KONNEKT™️ is a novel way of connecting together capacitors. The technology works along with the U2J dielectric that Dr. Gurav developed. The Innovation Centers are moving forward with new and expanded technologies to revolutionize the circuit protection space.
The fundamental materials patent for our Class I dielectrics is US7172985: “Dielectric ceramic capacitor comprising non-reducible dielectric.” This led to a series of base metal electrode (BME) ceramics that were not only less expensive than the prior precious metal electrode ceramics but are also higher performing. Our recently introduced KC-LINK™️ device is based on this material as well as many of our recently introduced BME high reliability series for demanding military and aerospace applications.
Tantalum capacitor technology transformed over the last few decades with the development of tantalum polymer. This new combination replaced the earlier tantalum-manganese dioxide capacitors of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Innovators Randy Hahn and Dr. Antony Chacko were key to KEMET’s role in this. Randy is one of the inventors on the highly significant KEMET patent US7563290: “High voltage solid electrolytic capacitors using conductive polymer slurries.” This opened up the area of high voltage tantalum polymer capacitors not only for KEMET but for the industry as a whole through licensing.
Dr. Antony Chacko has numerous patents in the tantalum polymer area and has formulated many custom products that have significantly extended KEMET’s capabilities while lowering costs. His innovations led to materials with higher performance under harsh conditions of temperature and humidity as well as continued expansion of the voltage and capacitance range of KO-CAP’s.
As technology expands and grows, KEMET will continue to be a leader in research and development. It is central to our identity as a company. Our founder was thrilled by the hidden possibilities of chemistry and metallurgy. Like him, throughout our 100-year history, we have pushed innovation forward. We are not content with what already exists. We continually develop solutions that make the world a better, safer, more connected place to live. See what the future holds for KEMET.