Diamfab Secures €8.7M for Diamond Semiconductor technology

Diamfab, a deeptech firm specialising in semiconductor diamonds, has secured its inaugural funding of €8.7 million.

This funding round includes contributions from Asterion Ventures, the French Tech Seed fund managed by Bpifrance on behalf of the French government as a component of the France 2030 initiative, Kreaxi alongside the Avenir Industrie Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional fund, Better Angle, Hello Tomorrow, and Grenoble Alpes Métropole.

Originating from Grenoble, Diamfab emerged as a spin-off from the Institut Néel, a CNRS laboratory, encapsulating three decades of research and development in synthetic diamond growth. The journey from an incubation phase with SATT Linksium Grenoble Alpes culminated in the establishment of Diamfab in March 2019, co-founded by Gauthier Chicot and Khaled Driche, both PhDs in nanoelectronics and esteemed researchers within the semiconducting diamond domain.

Diamfab aims to revolutionise the semiconductors and power components market, especially for the automotive, renewable energy, and quantum computing sectors, through its pioneering technology in epitaxy and doping of synthetic diamonds. The company's intellectual property portfolio, safeguarded by four patents, underscores its proficiency in enhancing and doping thin diamond layers and crafting diamond-based electronic components.

Historically reliant on silicon, the power electronics sector is undergoing a transformation with the rise of electric vehicles, catalysing the shift towards novel semiconductor materials that boast superior capabilities. Diamfab's innovations herald the adoption of diamond as the paramount semiconductor material, producing components that are lighter, highly tolerant of extreme temperatures, and more energy-efficient. These advancements are deemed crucial for diverse applications, from power electronics in electric vehicles to broader industry and electrical distribution networks.

The fresh influx of funds will empower Diamfab to establish a pilot production line to advance the pre-industrialisation phase of its technology, bolster its development, and address the escalating demand for diamond semiconductors.

As a vanguard in France's semiconductor diamond sector, Diamfab aspires to elevate semiconductor diamonds to the industrial readiness level required, positioning itself at the helm of this technological upheaval.

"In the development of a cutting-edge industry like ours, each stage is essential. The pilot project will catalyse 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. We couldn't have hoped for better partners than those who have rallied around us with Asterion," comments Gauthier Chicot, Chairman of Diamfab.

"Diamfab is at the crossroads of many of today's challenges: industrial relocation, decarbonisation, strategic sovereignty... The technology we have developed makes it possible to reduce the historical carbon footprint of semiconductors considerably, and to do so by relocating a key industry for Europe, which is one of our investment priorities with Asterion. Industrial deeptech companies need calm, long-term support, and that's what we provide," explains Charles-Henry Choel, the Asterion Ventures partner in charge of the deal.

Controlling and modulating electricity flows, power semiconductors are the driving force behind the development of increasingly electric economies. Their impact is central in terms of system efficiency, power and compactness. They are therefore key to the massive electrification and fortify the decarbonisation of entire sectors of the economy.

This fast-growing industry, estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars by 2030, is traditionally based on silicon, still the undisputed leader today. In recent years, new alternative materials known as "wide band gap" semiconductors have emerged and taken significant market share. Diamond, an "ultra wide band gap" semiconductor, is recognised as the ultimate power semiconductor, with a Baliga Figure of Merit score 40 times higher than SiC and 100 times higher than GaN. It will undoubtedly be the material of choice for this new generation of electronic components for power management.

Since its creation in 2019, Diamfab has built up an ecosystem of international partners and customers who are helping to develop the technology, including Soitec, Murata, STMicroelectronics, CEA and Schneider Electric.

 By reaching industrial standards (wafer size and demonstrator components), deeptech will enable players in the sector to integrate diamond technology into tomorrow's solutions. The result will be unrivaled performance in terms of efficiency, voltage withstand, thermal management and reduced CO2 impact throughout the process: from manufacture to use.

 By supporting Diamfab, the French Tech Seed fund managed on behalf of the French government by Bpifrance as part of France 2030, the Fonds Régional Avenir Industrie and Grenoble Alpes Métropole are acknowledging the importance of this technology, as well as their desire to see it develop in France and in a leading European ecosystem.

 "On behalf of the French government, Bpifrance is actively participating in the re-industrialisation of France, and is working to ensure the country's sovereignty in strategic sectors such as semiconductors. Diamfab crystallises these two ambitions: we are proud to be able to support them in this new pre-industrialisation phase," adds Stéphane Lefevre-Sauli, Investment Director at Bpifrance.

 "Diamfab, because of its deeptech nature and the industrial nature of the project, fits perfectly into the investment criteria of the brand new Fonds Régional Avenir Industrie, launched by the Auvergne Rhône Alpes region at the end of 2023. We are particularly pleased to support the company at the critical stage of building its pilot line, which will enable it to reach the maturity needed to convince semiconductor manufacturers to invest in this new disruptive technology", adds Pierre-Antoine Cognard, Business Manager at Kreaxi.