In the 1960s, Dr Donald Highgate began working with hydrophilic cross-linked polymers. He successfully developed and commercialised his first major discovery – the materials used in soft contact lenses. Subsequently in the late 1990s, after years of research, he made his second major discovery – ionically conducting, hydrophilic cross-linked polymers. In 2002, Dr Donald Highgate was joined by Jim Heathcote, and two years later in 2004, Dr Donald Highgate, acting as the Director of Research, and Jim Heathcote, acting as CEO, were involved in the successful flotation of ITM Power PLC on AIM, which was one of the first fuel cell and electrolyser companies to be quoted in Europe.
In 2013, Dr Donald Highgate and Jim Heathcote, along with Nigel Spence (former finance director and a current Non-Executive Director), formed Superdielectrics and designed the Superdielectrics research programme. The terms of the research programme were formalised in 2014 when SD negotiated the a research agreement with the University of Surrey pursuant to which, in return for a fee, the University of Surrey would provide laboratories, scientists and supervision. Crucially, the Company secured the sole IP rights to any new discoveries resulting from the research programme, which was undertaken by the University of Surrey under the supervision of Dr Donald Highgate.
During the research programme it became clear that the Superdielectrics polymers exhibited some unusual electrical properties. Accordingly, in 2016, samples were sent to Professor David Fermin of the Bristol Electrochemistry Group at the University of Bristol for independent analysis, and the University of Surrey conducted further work on these samples; both universities confirmed that the materials exhibited exceptional Capacitance.
In 2020/21, the Company received sufficient funds to expand its operations onto two new sites and accelerate its research and development programme. Superdielectrics now has its head office and laboratories just outside of Cambridge at the Chesterford Research Park, and further laboratories at the Surrey Research Park.