Sheffield-based photonics company Phlux Technology, which develops advanced infrared sensors, announced on Wednesday that it has raised £4M (approx. £4.63M) in Seed funding from deep tech investors.
Phlux Technology, a spin-off of Sheffield University, has developed a method for infrared sensors to improve their performance in LIDAR (light and laser detection) systems. The startup used extensive research on Antimony, the semi-metallic element, to develop it. The new architecture is 10 times more sensitive and contains 50 percent more compared to similar sensors. As a result, the production cost of LIDAR sensors has decreased and opened up mass market adoption.
Investors in this round
The round was led by Octopus Ventures and includes Northern Gritstone, the Foresight Williams Technology Funds, the Innovation Fund, and Innovate UK.
Amy Nommeots-Nomm, deep technology investor at Octopus Ventures, said: “We are delighted to lead this investment round for Phlux Technology, as this new breakthrough is critical to the leadership of from transport, communication and emission control systems. Currently, there is a consolidation of the market among silicon-based measurement companies, because it cannot solve the problems that Phlux destroyed those, so it’s possible to be excited.”
Advanced infrared sensor design
Phlux Technology was founded by Ben White, Prof. Jo Shien Ng and Prof. Chee Hing Tan in 2020, who met at the University of Sheffield researching new semiconductor materials and devices for infrared detection.
The world’s first Antimonides-based LIDAR receiver chip was developed by Phlux Technology. The company develops integrated subsystems and array modules to provide high-performance measurement equipment. According to the company, this kit will have uses in addition to LIDAR for satellite communication and enabling the Internet in remote areas, fiber telecom, autonomous vehicles, gas sensing, and quantum communication.
Co-founder Ben White said: “Our goal is to become the Nvidia of the infrared sensor market, starting with the launch of the world’s first LIDAR receiver chip using Antimony. The industry will not achieve complete independence with LIDAR if it relies on silicon-based sensors, so our approach will change the sensor market for robotics and self-driving machines. We are launching Phlux at the University of Sheffield at a time when it has ambitious plans to become a global center of excellence for semiconductor research and the UK is looking to showcase its capabilities in being the world’s leading scientific nation.
The company is located in one of the world’s largest centers for III-V semiconductor research, with “world-class” research and infrastructure at Sheffield University, and the The National Epitaxy Facility, which received £12M from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) .
As part of the first phase of commercialization, Phlux says it has created a unique sensor for its Phyllo product line that can be replicated with current LIDAR systems.
For the long term, the company builds integrated subsystems and array modules that create high-performance measurement devices. And in the coming years, we will increase our engineering team in areas such as manufacturing, mixed signal circuit design, optics and testing.
Matthew Burke, Head of Technology Ventures at Williams Advanced Engineering, said: “Increasing sensor capabilities while lowering costs is a key factor in accelerating the move to higher levels of automation. driving and with this seed funding, we look forward to seeing Phlux’s sensor technology transform into full commercialization.”
Working with QLM
Phlux Technology has won an Innovate UK project with success story Quantum QLM, developing a sensor for a LIDAR-based camera that monitors greenhouse gas emissions.
Murray Reed, CEO of QLM, said: “We are pleased to work with Phlux to develop a single-photon LIDAR sensor for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. The climate control today requires the deployment of large-scale monitoring solutions, which require low-cost technology and complete control of the supply chain of critical components such as sensors. Phlux’s technology is very exciting because it offers It is a more efficient alternative to the current approach and opens up a new UK supplier with great potential for us.”