Paragraf, a Cambridge University spin-out, is now able to produce graphene ‘wafers’ and graphene-based electronic devices that can be used in transistors, where graphene-based chips will be able to deliver speeds ten times faster than silicon chips.
According to the company the wafers could also be used in chemical and electrical sensors, where the use of graphene could increase sensitivity by a factor of more than 30.
The company’s first device will be available in the next few months.
The widespread commercial application of graphene in electronic devices has been held back by difficulties associated with producing it at good enough quality and in sufficient volumes. The conventional way of making large-area graphene involves using copper as a catalyst which contaminates the graphene, making it unsuitable for electronic applications.
Professor Sir Colin Humphreys from the Centre for Gallium Nitride in Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, along with his former postdoctoral researchers Dr Simon Thomas and Dr Ivor Guiney, developed an innovative method to make large-area graphene back in 2015 and were able to form high-quality graphene wafers up to eight inches in diameter, ahead of other universities, but also companies like IBM, Intel and Samsung.
Paragraf was spun out in early 2018. Dr. Thomas is currently the company’s CEO and Dr. Guiney is its Chief Technology Officer, while Prof. Humphreys, who has recently moved to Queen Mary University of London, serves as Chair.
To date, Paragraf has received £2.9 million in funding to support the development of its first commercial products and it was able to move into new premises in February 2018. The funding round was led by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation arm. Paragraf currently employs 16 people and has filed eight patents.
“Paragraf has the potential to transform a wide range of industries, including electronics, energy and healthcare,” said Dr. Humphreys. “It will enable the basic science results achieved in laboratories worldwide using small graphene flakes to be commercially exploited in graphene-based devices and to realise the potential and benefits to society of graphene, the wonder material.”
The original research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).