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Founded by Dr Arthur Langridge in 1968, LML built on his semiconductor-industry experience to provide connectors and conductors for power semiconductors in power control and distribution.
LML had made a strong start in the UK and West Europe and in 1974 the new Molypress division started manufacturing molybdenum substrates for silicon power devices. Overcoming Molybdenum’s difficult metallurgy releases its valuable combination of low thermal expansion with high conductivity of electrons and phonons. Arthur’s sons, Christopher & Paul, both joined the enterprise after graduating from Cambridge.
Engineering expertise powered both companies into vigorous growth with Molypress a prize-winner in Hill Samuel’s 1982 new-enterprise competition. Electroplating became, and remains, central to R&D efforts to optimise interfacial electrical performance in both LML & Molypress. Led by the search for high frequency power-switching devices, precision chemical-milling also moved to the leading edge of molybdenum development. LML was starting volume manufacture of cable terminations whilst thrusting ahead in electrical engineering projects. The new 2,000MW HVDC link across the English Channel incorporated both LML busbars and Molypress molybdenum and remains the largest-capacity submarine HVDC power transmission system in the world. The time was ripe for expansion and Molypress started its own molybdenum-metal manufacture in South Wales. Now exporting 70% of output world-wide, it supplied up to 40% of European demand in the face of much larger and more diversified companies. The decade finished with the decision to sell Molypress to the SKW division of VIAG, a Bavarian metals and utilities group.
As demand for cable-terminations grew, LML extended its manufacturing and electroplating facilities; overseen by Paul following Arthur’s retirement. Christopher started Riker to develop High Frequency Power Conversion with an award-winning 10kA injector for testing DC railway traction-supply protection, interest from Microbial Fuel-Cell pioneers and high-precision current sources.
Christopher started the decade moving Riker into a small start-up unit in Salisbury but then moving back to Calne to take over LML following Paul’s tragic early death. Demand for Riker’s testing arrived from most UK DC railways and Power Electronics was now increasing its impact on LML as devices improved and applications broadened across motor control, wind-power and emergent electric cars.
A remarkable convergence of environment, electricity and power electronics brings EVs and KERS into the dictionary of common parlance. Heavy investment in hybrid aircraft, with battery boost for take-off recharged by potential-energy recovery on descent, is spurred by combining reduced noise and pollution with turbine-generator efficiency. LML and Riker spread power through conductors and testing whilst, in the background, silicon-carbide semiconductors start to bring extra efficiency and performance to high-end systems and carbon, as graphene or nano-tubes, offers a glimpse of emergent future conductors and coatings.
September 14, 2015 saw the first detection of gravitational waves, simultaneously in the USA and Italy, by LIGO installations in Louisiana and Washington State & by Virgo near Pisa.
Electricity remains at the forefront as warming oceans steam ahead with their effects on climate whilst we weather political and viral storms. Generation, distribution, storage and application are all under increasing development pressure in the drive for clean energy and the improved efficiency, or elimination, of thermodynamic conversion. Electric vehicles roll onwards, and batteries drive a new phase of development in energy storage and power distribution whilst exciting heavy-lift VTOL hybrid aircraft are ready to take on conventional helicopters. LML and Riker continue to invest strongly in resources, equipment and vigorous R&D programmes covering materials, applications and processes.
In February 2022 the JET Tokamak at Culham, near Oxford UK, announced a new record for energy production by nuclear fusion, a small step on the giant’s causeway to abundant clean electricity.