Friday, January 16, 2015
Carbonics: Seeking The Future In Carbon Nanomaterials
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
In the quest for ever smaller sizes an faster speeds, the semiconductor industry has increasingly been looking for new materials which work better, are cheaper, and faster than traditional silicon. One of the companies working on that effort is Marina Del Rey-based Carbonics (www.carbonicsinc.com), which recently raised $5.5M in a venture funding round, to transform carbon nanomaterials research from UCLA and USC and bring it to market. We caught up with CEO Kos Galatsis to learn more about the company's technology, promise, and where the company is today.
What can you tell us about Carbonics and its technology?
Kos Galatsis: We are doing something unique when it comes to startups, in that we are buildling real hardware. What we are offering the marketplace, is a new technology platform that uses carbon nanomaterials to make chips. That's somewhat revolutionary, in terms of offering up a new material that has shown superior performance beyond silicon. Carbonics is bridging the gap between existing technology and carbon material technology, and hopefully with the funding of a couple of rounds,will prove the market with a superior microchip product, which will enable smartphone devices to operate at frequencies higher that today, and which will let you download YouTube images much faster, and ultimately make everything faster.
Explain why carbon nanomaterials are better than today's semiconductors?
Kos Galatsis: The way your current semiconductors work today, is like driving in Bangalore. You have to dodge potholes and there are no traffic lights. That's like silicon semiconductors today. Electronics moving around in semiconductor materials today don't move in a ballistic fashion, going from one place to another like an airplane. Electrons don't do that, they really move like a car might move in Bangalore. What we want to do is use carbon, which already has been proven to move electronics in a much more ballistic form, which would really have superior electronic characteristics for devices.
Can you talk about where this technology was developed?
Kos Galatsis: We have worked on this for the past ten years, with funding from the semiconductor industry itself. We have been working on this at UCLA and USC, where we have been developing the technology, and obviously been putting forward patents, licensing, and developing know-how. Other places, like the Air Force, DARPA, and others have also provided supplemental funding for the research and universities.
How did you make the decision to make this a stand alone startup?
Kos Galatsis: That's an excellent question. There are a few things. I would say the bullish notion of the startup team, who have been working in the research field for a number of years, is that it's time to take this technology to the next level. It was a pretty easy decision because it's an opportune time to take this forward.
How long of a path is there between where you are now and market?
Kos Galatsis: What is on the market today, which are materials based on Silicon, as well as things like Gallium Arsenide, Gallium Nitride, and Silicon Germanian, has a number of incumbents. There are many of the big boys working on carbon nanotubes, materials, and things like radiation hardened memory. So the path for us, is to show that we can perform as least as good as the incumbents. We haven't shown that yet, and no person has shown that. That's the reason for our first round of funding, which is to make sure we can perform at the same level as silicon, and when we get there exceed that.
How did the team come together?
Kos Galatsis: I'm from UCLA, and the other startup professor is from USC. We have been collaborators for a number of years, working on the technology for the last few years. We've been taking it from a research platform over many years to the base platform here.