Graphene-wrangler Paragraf slurps a cool £2.9m

Cambridge boffins promise prototype by year end

Burning money, photo via Shutterstock

Updated Paragraf, a Cambridge-based outfit claiming to have achieved the first commercial-scale graphene production technique, scored what would seem a relatively paltry £2.9m in seed funding today.

Graphene, the wonder-material that is notable for both generating exciting lab results and burning prodigious amounts of cash, has proven difficult to manufacture.

The high conductivity, strength, low weight, and flexibility of the material has had its evangelists extolling its virtues since boffins first emitted the stuff in 2004.

Graphene photo via Shutterstock

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The "spinout" from the University of Cambridge reckons its proprietary process deals with the issues of size, uniformity and contamination that have thus far banjaxed attempts to manufacture the material at any useful scale.

One notable attempt involved water, graphite and an industrial-strength blender. Paragraf is keeping its IP away from prying eyes, so there is no word on whether blenders are required this time around.

Should the company have indeed bucked the trend of failures to make the wonderstuff in any meaningful quantity, the cash injection by investors will be a canny one.

Paragraf said it has already produced layers of graphene with electrical characteristics at a commercial scale that are ideal for highly sensitive detectors or LED contact layers, and intends to push forward into building transistors.

A graphene-based device has long been touted as a way to keep Moore's law kicking a bit longer, delivering clock speeds an order of magnitude faster than mere silicon.

Arm founder Hermann Hauser, who bagged an honorary gong in 2016, has thrown some cash in the pot via Amadeus Capital Partners and commented: "Paragraf's novel approach to two-dimensional materials fabrication brings the possibility of mass market graphene based devices a step closer to reality." ®

Updated at 0803 UTC on 2 May to add: Paragraf has been in touch. The firm told us that while the research had been reviewed by technology peers, "the know-how has not been published as it is proprietary to the company".

It added: "Our business strategy is a little more diverse than direct material sales, most of our efforts are currently focused on graphene technology delivery, some devices are being developed solely in-house, others with partners, for example [Verditek].

"The £2.9m raise will allow us to reach some initial seed delivery targets, including all required facility and equipment acquisition activities and the realisation of our first products for market entry.

"We will be fully functional, manufacturing materials, within the next two months and we expect to deliver our first device prototype product before year end."

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