Business Development and Sapphire Crystal Growth Consultant

Dr. David Callejo Munoz has more than 20 years experience in the crystal growth field.  His main focus has been high temperature oxide crystal growth in particular sapphire crystals.  Dr Callejo has worked with the most of the important sapphire players around the world and has acquiring a diverse experience in sapphire growth processes and technologies from around the world.  He has been involved in the selection and qualification of raw materials suppliers, as well as furnaces, refractory and other critical components.  He has a clear and focused view about the path for the reduction of the cost of ownership for sapphire crystal production.  The last two years he has been concentrating on improving the sapphire quality to be applied to the micro-LED market as well as increasing the size of the crystals to open the access to the 6" cores production.  Dr Callejo has experience in every sapphire growth process technology including Ky, Cz,, EFG and Bagdasarov.  David is a key player worldwide in the sapphire production industry.

Board Member

Tuan Tran is a Managing Director at Ara, is a members of the Firm's investment committee, and is involved with all aspects of the firm’s investment process. He has over 20 years of experience in private equity, investment banking and equity research.

Prior to joining Ara, Tuan was a Partner and a member of the Investment Committee at Intervale Capital (“Intervale”), a $1.3 billion firm he helped build over 15 years. As a Founding Member of Intervale, he led numerous M&A assignments, equity issuances, and debt financings. He was instrumental in developing the firm’s strategies around environmental services, industrial services, energy technology, growth equity and combination investing. While at Intervale, he also spearheaded recruiting, firm building, fundraising and implementation of portfolio management best practices. Across three funds, he served on the Board of Directors for over 15 portfolio companies.

He started his professional career in Lehman Brothers’ Investment Banking Division, with assignments in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Tuan earned a BA with honors from Harvard University. In his spare time, he volunteers for “Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly” and serves as a Mentor for the Harvard Alumni Association.


Founder and CEO

After graduation from university, Scott Nichol started a secondary aluminum smelter to recycle scrap aluminum.  Scott then joined Cymat where he developed and scaled up a new process for manufacturing aluminum foam, and was a member of the management team that took the company public on the TSX.  Scott then founded 6N Silicon which developed a new process for purifying silicon for use in Solar Cells.  6N Silicon was sold to Calisolar in 2010.  Scott then was the COO for Jaco a Chinese solar company before starting Polar Sapphire in 2013.


R&D Manager

Iman Zargaran holds a master of degree in materials engineering.  He has over 10 years of materials development experience in different industries, including advanced materials, catalysts industries and nano-materials.  He started his career as a project analyst by participating in feasibly study of advanced materials projects.  He was in charge of process design and materials development of an alumina based catalyst production plant (2500 tons/year).  He has proven skills in developing idea and products modifications in R&D departments and has developed several commercial products and equipment for chemical and oil industries.)

Founder and COO

Dan Smith runs operations and manufacturing for Polar Sapphire.  He has broad manufacturing and management experience in companies ranging from small startups to medium sized companies, both privately held and publicly held.  Dan has run operations and scaled companies from small private companies to large publicly traded ones.  Dan was instrumental in advancing the technology at 6N Silicon, where he designed the factory as well as designed and procured the equipment to expand into a 100,000 sft manufacturing facility.

Board Member

Johanna Schmidtke is a Managing Director with Ara, having joined the firm in 2018, and is a member of the firm’s Investment Committee. Johanna has two decades of experience in low carbon investment, project implementation and research.

Johanna began her career in physics researching solar and low power display materials. At Lux Research and PricewaterhouseCoopers, she consulted global energy and industrial clients on external investment and internal research platforms in the renewable power, electronics and materials sectors. She then moved to the Corporate Development and Strategy team at First Solar, then the largest U.S. solar developer and panel manufacturer. Most recently, Johanna was an Investment Director at Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, where she led investments in waste carbon-utilizing chemicals, industrial cybersecurity and industrial construction platforms.

Johanna earned a PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge as a Gates Cambridge Scholar and a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona as a Goldwater Scholar. She is currently adjunct professor in the Global Energy Management program at the University of Colorado Denver Business School. Johanna is a proud mother of two and in her free time enjoys long bike rides with her family, classical music, and amateur photography.