Startup Paragraf raised $16 million to market its graphene-based sensors in a Series A funding round led by Parkwalk. Investors included IQ Capital Partners, Amadeus Capital Partner and Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialization arm of University of Cambridge.
The first device to be commercialized is a super-high sensitivity magnetic field detector that performs at higher ranges of temperature, distance and power than other devices, the company said.
Graphene-based technology promises to greatly improve computing speeds for improved medical diagnostics and efficient renewable energy generation. Instant-charging batteries are on the wish list of products.
The company has a manufacturing facility for graphene layer production and has built prototypes ahead of schedule.
Paragraf has also received a grant from the British government to develop graphene as a replacement for Indium, which is used for indium tin oxide (ITO) that is deployed in solar panels, mobile phones and TV screens. More than 90% of the display market uses ITO.
Indium is on the EU’s Critical Materials List and more than two-thirds of the reserves are in China, which produces half of the world’s supply. Graphene promises to be much cheaper than ITO if it can be mass produced. Graphene is a single, thin layer of graphite, the soft material used in a pencil. Its atoms are arranged in a hexagonal way, and at only one-atom thick it is 100 times stronger than steel.
Graphene is also flexible, transparent, highly conductive and impermeable to most gases and liquids. It was first isolated in 2004, but only in the form of flakes. Paragraf has produced graphene at up to eight inches in diameter by growing graphene on copper in a chemical vapor deposition process then removing the graphene.
Because it is flexible, it could be put to use for wearable electronics. Paragraf said it can add molecular dopants to multi-layer graphene to achieve very high sensitivity to detect biological, electrical, thermal or chemical functions. Or a single device can combine various sensors.