Infrared sensor startup Phlux Technology has received £4m in a seed funding round led by venture capital firm Octopus Ventures.
The University of Sheffield spinout has developed a “single element” sensor that can be installed in LIDAR, a technology that sends lasers to determine the distance of objects and is being used by autonomous car manufacturers help the vehicle navigate its environment.
“Our ambition is to become the Nvidia of the sensor market, starting off with delivering the world’s first LIDAR sensor chip using Antimony,” said Ben White, CEO and co-founder, Phlux Technology.
Phlux says that antimony, a semi-metal element (Sb), will allow its LIDAR sensors to be ten times more sensitive and have 50% more range.
Further potential applications of the startup’s tech outside of LIDAR are satellite communication, fibre telecoms and quantum communications.
“Industry will never achieve full autonomy with LIDAR if it relies on silicon-based sensors, so our approach will reshape the sensor market for robotics and self-driving machines,” continued White.
Phlux Technology plans to eventually develop its sensor into a full sensor toolkit.
The spinout will use the funding to make new hires in its engineering team, specifically in fabrication, along with mixed signal circuit design, optics and testing.
Octopus Ventures invested with Northern Gritstone, the Foresight Williams Technology Funds, the Innovation Fund, and Innovate UK.
Its sensor tech is already used by QLM for its greenhouse gas LIDAR cameras.
Murray Reed, chief executive officer, QLM, said: “Climate control requires very large-scale deployment of monitoring solutions, which demands low cost technology and complete supply chain control of critical components such as sensors.”
Ben White, professor Jo Shien Ng and professor Chee Hing Tan founded Phlux Technology following their research into semiconductor materials and infrared detection devices.