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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Microcapdaily Interviews Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic, Inc. (NASDAQ: LWLG) On Radical Innovation Needed to Keep the Internet Growing

Lightwave Logic, Inc. (NASDAQ: LWLG) is making a powerful run up the charts since reversing off $5.40 established support levels. Dr. Michael S. Lebby, Lightwave’s leader and CEO recently joined Microcapdaily for an interview. Dr. Lebby joined Lightwave Logic as a member of the Board of Directors in 2015. In May 2017, he assumed the role of CEO of the company. Dr. Lebby is an Anglo-American entrepreneur and intrapreneur in the fields of optoelectronics/photonics electronics and semiconductors. His career started with the British Government in 1977 in telecommunications and he did research at their prestigious labs (RSRE Malvern) in the early 1980s and worked at AT&T Bell Labs (1985-1989) in photonics. At Motorola in the 1990s he drove the development, including co-authorship of the first patent, of the oxide VCSEL diode laser which is now used in laser mice, 3D sensing/FaceID in mobile phones, optical interconnects with volumes over 1B units. From 2005-2010 he led the USA trade association in optoelectronics (OIDA) and represented the optoelectronics industry on Capitol Hill. He has run technical start-ups and commercialized optoelectronic and photonics technology into manufacturing. He was voted PIC (Photonic Integrated Circuit) business leader of the year by the PIC International Conference in 2018. He is a technical expert to the European Commission and a Fellow of IEEE and OSA.

LWLG

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Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily –  Hello Dr. Lebby this is Boe Rimes from Microcapdaily and we are so excited to have you on today for this interview. We also really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us. Can you start by providing a brief background on Lightwave Logic, NASDAQ: LWLG? What is the purpose of the company’s proprietary electro-optic polymer technology?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: The purpose is simply to enrich people’s lives using our electro-optic polymers. The big question is: how is a technology that is difficult to pronounce going to do this? It’s rhetorical, as we already know the answer, and that is by helping provide more bandwidth to the internet. More bandwidth means more data flowing around the fiber optic network that is the architecture for the internet.

How do we define more data? Well – it’s fairly straight-forward; as you read your next email, or watch online news, do you wonder what the affect would be if the speed of data passing through the internet doubled? What would it mean for us if our bandwidth data rate availability at home tripled, quadrupled, or even was 10X or 100X faster? It’s worth wondering: we would see faster downloads, faster uploads, and we would be able to run many video windows on many computers, portable tablets, notebooks etc., and video platforms throughout our home or office. Gone would be the days of turning our camera off to save bandwidth. Ha! I had to do this last week a number of times from my home-office. Wouldn’t this be great?

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – Can you explain how your proprietary electro-optic polymer technology works?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: Lightwave Logic is a Colorado-based company designing very high-speed optical switching devices for the internet. These devices are called modulators and they switch light extremely fast, and they do it consuming very low power, and lastly, they can very be small. Together, our devices act as powerful engine for components in the internet.

Lightwave Logic’s electro-optic polymers are really-cool! When you apply a simple voltage from say a battery, they can switch light. It’s sort of like an optical shutter on a camera. When the shutter is open, light passes through and we have a ‘1’, and when the shutter is closed, we have a ‘0’. This is the basis for sending digital data onto and into the internet. Let’s unpack the term electro-optics – this means that if you apply a voltage then you can change the optical properties of the material i.e., optical switching like a shutter. In fact, it is a similar mechanism that has been used in LCDs (liquid crystal displays). That material is liquid. Our proprietary material is polymer based and is an organic solid. The interesting observation is that our polymers switch light much-much faster than liquid crystal materials. Let’s explore the term polymer as it is used in a number of applications today. Our proprietary polymers are similar to the key material used in OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). Today, we have OLED mobile phone displays, OLED TVs, OLET monitors, and in fact OLEDs are everywhere. OLEDs are polymers also (the term organic means polymer), except they have a different chemical composition that emits light (red, green, blue etc.), however, our polymers switch light very quickly, and what’s more, at very low voltages (which means very low power consumption). Low power consumption is the Achilles heel of the datacenter industry today. The people working in this industry know that they have to solve this problem to remain competitive.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – What stage of development is this technology in?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: Our electro-optic polymers are in the prototype stage of development. We have achieved optical modulator switching speeds at least 3X faster than other semiconductor modulators that are being used as part of the internet today, and what’s more, with significant power savings that customers want to see. Our polymer technology not only is ideally suitable to upgrade bandwidth and data rates for the internet today, but tomorrow, in 5 years, in 10 years, and for the next few decades. Mother nature works with us when polymers are designed into modulators, and we see that our platform has a roadmap to help industry solve its problems not for a decade, but for decades.

Just like OLEDs, we see our electro-optic polymer modulators being ubiquitous in a global widespread adoption for the internet and optical networking industry. When I did research at Motorola Corporate Laboratories in the early 1990s on OLED technologies, there were stability, lifetime, reliability issues that needed to be solved. The industry solved them and now we accept OLEDs just like semiconductors – they are everywhere in many different products. We are following the same technological route – at Lightwave Logic, we have huge data sets and consistent results on stability, poling, lifetime, reliability, and we see the same path for the technology to become ubiquitous in the same way as OLEDs. It is very exciting to be a techie working at Lightwave Logic!

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – When will you go to market and begin producing revenues?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: Our plan is to commercially scale our polymer technology in volume using all available resources to do it. This means we will utilize our state-of-the-art commercial production materials facilities in Colorado to generate the polymers, which have capacity for volume scale manufacturing. We will add to that the capabilities of volume scale silicon semiconductor foundries to run wafers containing our polymer modulators.

We have filed and had issued over the past few years many patents, both international and national together with proprietary techniques to protect our electro-optic polymer platform. With this patent portfolio, we will utilize a business model that supports selling modulator devices as transceiver engines for the internet as well as licensing our patent portfolio for revenue, and lastly transferring our modulator technology to large scale volume semiconductor foundries for commercialization.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – Where do you expect the industry to go in the next five years?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: As the internet increases in bandwidth over the next 5-10-15+ years with technologies such as polymer modulators that we build at Lightwave Logic, we, as a society have to imagine what this will do for us. With essentially unlimited bandwidth into our homes, offices, and mobile phone means we will be potentially exposed to huge amounts of information, some we like, some we won’t want to see, and some that won’t leave us alone. Managing information is going to be a key trait for all of us as we mature in age, and I truly believe it will enrich and transform our lives. There will always be a dark side to things, and unfortunately for some of us, the increased information may weigh us down, may give us incorrect sources of information, and guide us in the wrong direction. Learning to manage ‘data-overload’ will be something we all have to watch over the next decade. I personally experience this with the news channels – hearing the same story every 30 minutes during the day. But I believe that we can all use the off-switch at some point! We actually do have that power at our finger-tips!

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – You have accomplished what few in the capital markets have been able to do – take a Company from the over-the-counter bulletin boards to NASDAQ. How did you accomplish this and what advice do you have for other CEOs who wish to accomplish this feat?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: When I took over as CEO of Lightwave Logic early in 2017, I was asked by shareholders at our Annual Shareholder Meeting in Denver, Colorado when Lightwave Logic will uplist to the NASDAQ from the OTC markets. My response was at the time, when we have progressed our technology platform to the point that we are receiving respect from our stakeholders that what we have with our electro-optic polymers has very high impact both on the internet and society. I believe this respect occurred in 2021, and by September 1st, we uplisted organically (that means no reverse split, no money raise), which, to my understanding, is very rare indeed. Only 9 days later, we were invited to ring the weekly closing bell at the NASDAQ in New York City. Both our President Jim Marcelli and I were extremely excited to do this together both for Lightwave and all of its shareholders.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – You have an incredible looking balance sheet, according to your quarterly report you are flush with cash with $24.3 million in the treasury, virtually debt free with just $1.2 million in total liabilities yet your stock has lost 75% in 2022, the market has been hard on everyone but do you think they oversold Lightwave?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: We are a conservatively run company. We watch our spending very carefully, and we have detailed internal plans in how we develop our electro-optic polymer technology into modulator devices as well as licensing and technology transfer to key partners. My role as CEO of Lightwave Logic is to create shareholder value through the advancement of our proprietary technology platform, and this is my key focus. If this is carried out well, then the interest in our company will grow with the knowledge that we can positively change the quality of people’s lives over the next decade or two. It’s simply amazing.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – Several years ago, you moved to a new facility located at 369 Inverness Parkway, Suite 350, in Englewood, Colorado that includes your optical testing laboratory and corporate headquarters as well as office, laboratory and research and development space. The 13,420 square feet Englewood facility includes fully functional 1,000 square feet of class 1,000 cleanroom, 500 square feet of class 10,000 cleanroom, chemistry laboratories, and analytic laboratories and streamlines all of the Company’s research and development workflow for greater operational efficiencies. Do you think having your corporate headquarters and your laboratory and research and development space in the same new facility has helped move your business forward?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: Bringing together our chemistry and materials facilities in Delaware with our fabrication and device facilities in Longmont, Colorado was key for us to gain a better handle on designing product for customers. Having our chemists work side-by-side with our fabrication and device engineers allows everyone to better understand and comprehend customer requirements in terms of product specifications, performance, quality, etc. Our current facility in Englewood, Colorado at the south part of the Tech Center, south of Denver, is a great location not only for Lightwave Logic employees, but our visitors and suppliers also. Colorado is very supportive for companies such as us.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – You have fortified LWLG intellectual property portfolio through publication of a U.S. patent application that aids to significantly enhance polymer performance and simplify fabrication in foundry applications, as well as the receipt of another U.S. patent that simplifies modulator integration for high-volume manufacturing operations. The portfolio includes 59 granted patents that include 47 from the US, 1 from Canada, 5 from the EU, 2 from Japan and 2 from China. Do expect to license or otherwise capitalize from these patents?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: We are proud of our patent portfolio, and this has allowed us to create a three-pronged business model that combines selling product, licensing our patents, and transferring our technology know-how to large scale semiconductor foundries. This business model also allows us lots of flexibility when we speak to entities interested in our electro-optic polymer platform.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – LWLG was trading for over $20 in December. It’s now just over $5. What has changed since then?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: We are totally focused on increasing shareholder value and bringing our technology platform to full maturity. We are excited with our unparalleled progress over the past 12 months, and we continue to strive forward to make our electro-optic polymer technology platform ubiquitous in the marketplace.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – There has been an organized short attack on your stock including a report issued by short selling firm Kerrisdale Capital about Lightwave Logic that contains false and misleading statements. Your stock is at critical support level just over $5 per share and seems to be holding strong in a really taught market, it looks like the short attack left the stock significantly oversold and is looking to take back some of its recent loses. Do you believe they have covered their positions yet?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: We issued a press release on June 7th that addressed our opinions on this issue. We are aware that when you are a pre-revenue public company on NASDAQ these types of things may occur. The best way to address them is to focus on the job-at-hand: increase shareholder value, and progress our exciting technology platform to the next maturity level – and this is what we are doing.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – Lightwave has achieved world-class results for a polymer modulator, as demonstrated in an enhanced stability and high-speed measurement by Polariton Technologies and ETH Zurich. The Company has achieved breakthrough photostability results on its electro-optic polymer modulators that are compatible with high-volume silicon foundry processes. Recently Lightwave announced enhanced photostability results on the company’s proprietary electro-optic polymer modulators – demonstrating the reliability necessary for commercial deployments – all based on a technology which can be ported into high-volume silicon foundries and integrated onto a silicon photonics platform with other optical devices. In the tests conducted, subjecting the company’s latest polymers to high intensity optical power for over 3000 hours produced no change in device performance. The ability of Lightwave Logic’s proprietary polymers to pass this accelerated photostability aging test provides assurance that they will both tolerate the optical exposures which occur in high-volume manufacturing and support the reliability over the required operating life of optical transceivers and network elements. Lightwave technology is well positioned to become a key enabler for upgrading the speed of the internet, as well as decreasing power consumption, both of which are now the Achilles Heel for internet network architectures. How soon do you believe the market will be ready for your breakthrough technology?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: We create world-class polymers that are used in modulator devices. We have given public guidance of world class technical results and performance over the past 2-4 years. One of the things that customers want to see is ‘third-party review’ – this means having our polymers tested for performance in someone else’s modulator. This is exactly what we did – we sent material to a company in Europe, and it put our material into its modulator devices, and the results were quite stunning. They achieved world-record performance and this was peer reviewed and presented at an international conference both in 2021 and again with another result early in 2022. Third-party review of your material is a critical component in advancing the maturity of your technology platform. Again, this makes us very excited at the prospect of having a huge impact on the internet and optical networks that carry our web traffic.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – Lightwave is a leader in high-performance, high-stability electro-optic polymers that beat anything currently on the market. This technology could disruptive enormous industries such as high-speed (wide bandwidth) telecommunication and data communications applications. Why is the stock price so far behind?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: Once people realize the impact of the technological platform we have, we expect to see significant excitement in the market as our technology becomes ubiquitous. Yes, I use this word ‘ubiquitous’ as our goal is to have our electro-optic polymers everywhere just like OLED polymers that are used for displays and TVs today.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – Besides the telecommunication and data communications markets what other markets do you think high-performance, high-stability electro-optic polymers could disrupt.

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: We have already noted in our market guidance that our electro-optic polymers are expected to have a big impact in a number of parallel market verticals such as optical sensing, automotive (with LIDAR), projection/displays, medical to name a few. While we are focused on fiber-optic communications for the internet today, these other markets also require optical devices that switch light quickly at low power, and in small sizes. Sometimes having a technology that is small, fast, and low power really works!

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – The total market for opto-electronic components used in the fiber optics market reached a value of $26 billion and is forecasted to grow to approximately $80 billion by 2030. What Percentage of this market can Lightwave capture?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: Assuming our technology becomes ubiquitous just like OLED polymers, then we can assume that our market opportunity is significant. We have not provided guidance on detailed market projections yet, but it is very exciting as the markets not only already exist but are growing quickly, and are expected to continue to grow quickly over the next decade.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – How is Lightwave Logic dealing with inflation and the current issues with supply chains?

Dr. Michael Lebby CEO of Lightwave Logic: We manufacture and produce our polymers using domestically-sourced raw materials in Denver, Colorado. This means that we have excellent security of supply, and we do not see much impact from the current inflation that the country is dealing with in our business.

 

Boe Rimes / Microcapdaily – Thank you so much Dr. Lebby for taking the time to do this interview with us and I would like to say on the behalf of Microcapdaily we are all very excited about Lightwave Logic. The Company has cutting edge technology that is ready to disrupt enormous markets and we are excited to watch it happen. Based on your filings and recent press we think LWLG is a serious buy at current price levels. Thank you.

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