University of Sheffield start-up secures £4m investment to bring ‘world first’ sensor to mass market

  • A University of Sheffield spin-out company has secured major investment from leading deep tech investors to bring its high-performance infrared sensors to the mass market
  • Phlux Technology has designed the first infrared sensors for LiDAR using the semi-metal element, antimony, which surpass the capabilities of silicon-based sensors and is set to reshape the market for robotics and self-driving machines
  • LiDAR systems are the technology that enables autonomous machines – such as cars and robots – to control and navigate
  • Sensors from Sheffield start-up are 10 times more sensitive and have 50 per cent more range than the current approach

A University of Sheffield spin-out company has secured the backing of leading deep tech investors to bring its revolutionary infrared sensors – a game changer for robotics and self-driving machines – to the mass market.

Phlux Technology, which has designed high-performance sensors that surpass the capabilities of silicon-based sensors, has secured £4 million in seed funding in a round led by Octopus Ventures.

Spun-out of Sheffield’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering – known as a world leader in semiconductor R&D – Phlux has developed infrared sensors using the semi-metal element, antimony, which dramatically improves their performance in LiDAR systems – the technology behind the control and navigation of autonomous machines, such as cars and robots.

The sensors developed by the Sheffield start-up are the world’s first antimony-based LiDAR sensor chips with architecture that is 10 times more sensitive and has 50 per cent more range compared to silicon-based sensors. Its design also reduces the cost of manufacture of LiDAR sensors, opening them up to mass market adoption.

This radical new approach underlines the limitations of silicon-based sensors and how they struggle to enable low-cost autonomous applications.

Ben White, CEO and co-founder of Phlux Technologies, said: “Our ambition is to become the Nvidia of the sensor market starting off with delivering the world’s first LiDAR sensor chip using antimony.

“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.

“We are delighted to be spinning Phlux out of the University of Sheffield at a time when it has ambitious plans to become a global centre of excellence for semiconductor research and the UK is looking to demonstrate its capabilities as a global science superpower.”

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