Diamond Valley? Silicon semiconductors face a run for their money

Diamfab raises €8.7M to pilot diamond semiconductor technology.
Diamond Valley? Silicon semiconductors face a run for their money

Grenoble-based Diamfab has raised €8.7M in funding for a pilot programme demonstrating semiconductors made using their wafer-thin diamond instead of silicon. Diamfab plans for these semiconductors to form the foundation of chips used in the automotive, renewable energies and quantum industries.

The use of diamond to replace silicon in semiconductors has been promised and reneged on for decades, dogged by issues of cost and feasibility. Diamond is lighter, more resistant to high temperatures and more energy-efficient, making it ideal for a wide range of applications including power electronics in electric cars, industry and electricity distribution networks.

Breakthroughs in chemical vapour deposition that allow higher-quality, lower-cost production of synthetic diamonds mean that industrial-scale use of diamond semiconductors is becoming a real possibility. Diamfab’s expertise lies in the growth and doping of thin diamond layers, as well as in the design of diamond electronic components.

The company is founded by nanoelectronics PhDs Gauthier Chicot and Khaled Driche in 2019. Investors include Asterion Ventures and BPI who operates the €500 million French Tech Seed fund on behalf of the French government as part of France 2030.

The raise confirms France’s commitment to innovative electricity production, seen also in its large-scale uptake of nuclear energy sources. 

‘Chip wars’ have characterised the tech landscape for the past few years with a widely-held view of chip sovereignty as essential to innovation and prosperity. The investment is an indication of France’s hope that it could take the edge by enabling synthetic diamonds to meet industrial standards regarding wafer size and industrial components.

This first round of funding will enable Diamfab to set up a pilot line to pre-industrialize its technology, accelerate development and meet growing demand.

Gauthier Chicot, Chairman of Diamfab, said that the pilot "will catalyze many discussions with our partners and strengthen our relationships.

“To be accompanied by investors who are committed to the industry and the climate, and above all who understand its constraints and links, is fundamental.”

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