The Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 6, 1999
December 6, 1999
VOL. 29, NO. 15


APL Launches Its First Start-Up Company

Syntonics LLC will develop, manufacture and sell ultrastable oscillators

By Ben Walker
Applied Physics Laboratory

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

The Applied Physics Laboratory has created its first start-up company, Syntonics LLC, under an initiative to commercialize portions of its space research and test facilities.

Over the past decades, APL's Space Department has developed more than 400 oscillator and clock systems for U.S. government sponsors. In many cases the technology is not available to the commercial sector because of certain APL or government policies. However, future commercial space-based communications networks and remote sensing instruments will require oscillators having higher frequencies of operation as well as better stability. To meet this need, APL has licensed its ultrastable oscillator technologies to Syntonics LLC.

Located in Maryland, Syntonics LLC is a stand-alone, independent entity that will develop, manufacture and sell ultrastable oscillators. The university has a minor equity interest in Syntonics LLC. APL will continue to perform ultrastable oscillator research and development for sponsors and continue producing one-of-a-kind products.

"The establishment of Syntonics LLC is a great opportunity to make important APL space technology available to commercial customers for the first time. It's good for the customers, good for APL and good for the high-tech community in Howard County and Maryland," says William R. Brody, president of the university. "This is a first for APL, and it's only a beginning. You'll see a lot more entrepreneurial ventures coming out of the lab in years to come."

Announced a year ago, APL's commercial space initiative has targeted three avenues for providing products and services to commercial space enterprises: science and technology R&D, transition of technology, and use of APL facilities and testing capabilities.

As it grows, Syntonics LLC may travel along all these avenues under sponsored research agreements as it contracts for APL research and development, technical advice, additional intellectual property and for the use of APL test facilities.