Sand 9 Shrinks Electronic Clocks, Expands with $8 Million Round

Two local venture firms, Flybridge Capital Parners and General Catalyst Partners, have joined forces with Khosla Ventures of Menlo Park, CA, and invested in Boston University spin-off Sand 9, a start-up founded in 2006 to develop “nano-mechanical resonators” for wireless devices. Flybridge led the $8 Million A series round.

A resonator can be regarded as kind of timekeeper, a very exact clock that makes sure that the circuits in devices such as cell phones, GPS receivers and wireless routers work on the right frequencies. Today’s resonators are based on quartz crystals, just as in most wristwatches, and are fairly big. Instead, Sand9 has developed a technology that can shrink the resonators to nanoscale dimensions, according to the company’s technical founder, BU physics professor Raj Mohanty.

“We can do these components on a much smaller scale and then use them to build switches, filters, mixers and similar components,” says Mohanty. “And as we do them in silicon, it is possible to integrate them with CMOS electronics on the same chip.” CMOS, for complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor, is the leading technique used to build microelectronics.

Much of the initial development of Sand 9’s devices has been carried out at Mohanty’s lab at BU during the last six years, with support from the National Science Foundation. He expects that the company’s first products will be ready for market some time during 2009.

As part of the funding, Flybridge general Partner David Aronoff will join Sand  9’s board of directors.

Erik Mellgren is a Swedish journalist who worked for Xconomy Boston in 2008 as part of the Stanford Innovation Journalism Fellowship program. His real job is with Ny Teknik, a leading technology and innovation magazine in Sweden, but he loved seeing the Red Sox at Fenway. Follow @

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