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1 May, 2018 - 10:02 By Tony Quested

Paragraf raises £2.9m to scale graphene technologies

Cambridge University spin-out Paragraf, a graphene technology development business, has closed a £2.9 million seed round to support development of its first major products.

The round is led by Cambridge Enterprise, the university’s commercialisation arm, with buy-in from Parkwalk Advisors, Amadeus Capital Partners, IQ Capital Partners and angel investors.

Paragraf focuses on the production of ‘two-dimensional’ materials, primarily graphene – dubbed the new wonder material – and the development of electronic devices based on these materials. It will apply its technology to a range of advanced electronic, energy and medical devices to benefit society. 

Paragraf is a spin-out from the Centre for Gallium Nitride group of Professor Sir Colin Humphreys in the Department of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Hermann Hauser, co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners, said: “Graphene has demonstrated some remarkable achievements in the lab, showing great promise for many future electronic technologies. 

“However, without a pathway to commercial viability, scaling from proof of concept to end user accessible products remains beyond the horizon. “Paragraf’s novel approach to two-dimensional materials fabrication brings the possibility of mass market graphene based devices a step closer to reality.”

Paragraf’s technology is the first ever commercial-scale method validated to reproducibly deliver functionally active graphene with properties targeted to its final device-specific application, with both high quality and high throughput.

Using a proprietary, patent-protected approach Paragraf has overcome the problems of poor uniformity, reproducibility, limited size and material contamination that have stymied all current graphene manufacturing techniques. 

The company has already produced layers with electrical characteristics optimised for producing very sensitive detectors at commercial scale and improved efficiency contact layers for common technologies such as LEDs. 

Paragraf’s devices will target markets including transistors, where graphene-based devices could deliver clock speeds several orders of magnitude faster than silicon-based devices; chemical and electrical sensors, where graphene could increase sensitivity by a factor of >1000; and novel energy generation devices tapping into kinetic and chemical green energy sources yet to be exploited by any other technology.

Professor Sir Colin Humphreys, chairman and co-founder of Paragraf, said: “Graphene has been called the new wonder material, because of its potential to transform a range of industries such as electronics, energy and healthcare. 

“However, so far, its applications have been limited because good quality graphene is only available in small flakes. Our underlying research has the capability to transform production by providing good quality, large-area graphene on a commercial scale.”

CEO and co-founder Dr Simon Thomas added: “There’s no doubt that the electronic, mechanical and optical properties of two-dimensional materials such as graphene have the potential to significantly increase performance in a multitude of state of the art technologies. 

“However, until materials like graphene can be delivered in commercially viable, device compatible, functionally targeted forms, the achievements demonstrated at lab scale will not be transferred to real-world products. At Paragraf we have developed the first production technique that allows true scaling of graphene based devices.”

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