News & Analysis

Silicon chips get a boost as Chiral raised $3.8m

27th February 2024
Paige West

Nanotechnology firm Chiral announced it has secured $3.8 million in funding, pioneering the integration of nanomaterials into electronic devices.

Over the past two decades, chipmaking has emerged as one of the most pivotal technologies globally, primarily fuelled by the progressive miniaturisation of silicon technology, famously encapsulated in Moore's Law.

However, as advancements in silicon approach their physical limitations, the focus has shifted towards nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, and TMDs, heralded for their potential to revolutionise chip functionality. Yet, fabricating electronic devices with these minuscule materials swiftly, accurately, and without sacrificing quality presents a significant challenge.

Nanotechnology firm Chiral announced it has secured $3.8 million in funding to tackle this issue directly, pioneering the integration of nanomaterials into electronic devices. The company's expertise in nanotechnology, automation, and precision robotics is expected to be crucial for transitioning beyond silicon to the forthcoming era of electronics. The funding round, a collaboration between Founderful (formerly Wingman Ventures) and HCVC, also includes contributions from ETH Zurich and Venture Kick.

The application and impact of nanomaterials in electronics, ranging from high-performance transistors to quantum devices, have been well-documented. However, the lack of control in existing, predominantly chemistry-based production techniques has stalled the commercialisation of these innovations.

Chiral has developed automated robotic systems capable of integrating nanomaterials into devices with unparalleled speed and accuracy. These systems can precisely place materials, whether micrometre or nanometre in size, onto chips in a repeatable, automated fashion. This level of engineering ensures the precision and control absent in traditional production methods.

This technology's journey began with a national research project at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Zurich, EPFL, and Empa), where Chiral's co-founders Seoho Jung, Natanael Lanz, and Andre Butzerin contributed as PhD students. After four years of R&D, their prototype machine, which was 100 times faster than existing alternatives, quickly attracted the company's first pilot customers, prompting the transition from project to company in June 2023.

Seoho Jung, Co-Founder and CEO of Chiral, shared his vision: “At Chiral, we are pioneering the next generation of electronic devices across industry. Chipmakers are aware of the potential of nanomaterials and we’re bringing that potential to life. This funding will accelerate the development of our next machine, which will unlock new market opportunities with its versatility and performance. We are also excited to scale our team to keep up with the growing demand and customer base."

The anticipated growth of the global nanotechnology market is substantial, expected to increase from $79.14 billion in 2023 to $248.56 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 17.8%. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), a leading chipmaker, has outlined a future architecture incorporating nanomaterial-based transistors, underscoring the sector's evolving landscape.

Pascal Mathis, Founding Partner at Founderful, commented: “We're thrilled to join forces with Chiral alongside HCVC. Chiral's AI- and robotics-based technology lets us envision a future where nanomaterial-based chips are being produced at the scale needed for commercialisation – a major bottleneck up until now. We look forward to supporting Seoho, Natanael and André in their journey to introduce a new paradigm of chips beyond silicon.”

Alexis Houssou, Founding Partner at HCVC, commented: “With the current boom in AI applications, we stand at a pivotal moment where the slowdown of Moore's law threatens to decelerate the pace of technological progress significantly. The team at Chiral has embarked on a critical mission to pave the way toward a groundbreaking post-silicon era, promising to transcend current limitations and unlock new possibilities for advancement. We couldn't be more excited to support their mission, in collaboration with Founderful, as they build the future of computing infrastructure.”

Jung added: “In the future, it will be normal for electronic devices or chips to contain nanomaterials. The development roadmaps of the world's leading chipmakers like TSMC, Samsung, and Intel all share our vision. We are confident that Chiral technology will empower the industry to make this transition faster."

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