DCM and Oxford Technology Management announce a funding round for the producers of the worlds most valuable substance
One of the biggest challenges to the developers of autonomous self driving cars is determining exactly where it is. What is required is millimetre precision in determining exactly where the car is, GPS cannot do that without an absolute precision clock determining the beat of its electronic heart.
Just as Tesla founder Elon Musk was propelled to ‘wealthiest man in the world status’ an investor presentation was being delivered by Oxford Technology Management, a start up fund, showcasing one of its portfolio companies that has a solution to the clock problem which might just help Musk cement his position ahead of Jeff Bezos.
Designer Carbon Materials (DCM) produce designer endohedral fullerene molecules with tailored electronic properties. DCM first hit the headlines by producing and selling the worlds most expensive material, valued at the equivalent of £200 million a gram.
One of the three product areas it is focusing on is the very thing Tesla, GM and VW are looking for, the heart of an affordable, low energy draining atomic clock in miniature.
The general public may be more familiar with endohedral fullerene molecules as ‘buckyballs’ of carbon, DCM are expert at inserting one or more metal ions into the individual buckyballs, more properly called fullerene cages. This produces materials with very specific properties. When using nitrogen one of these properties is a time signal of extraordinary accuracy at varying temperatures. A single nitrogen ion is inserted into the ball shaped lattice of 60 carbon atoms, and that molecule acts as a highly stable and accurate clock requiring very low energy input. DCM’s particular expertise is in producing highly pure samples of the compound.
As with all advanced materials production, it is the ‘know how’ that is the key IP, and Kyriakos Porfyrakis, the academic founder and director of DCM, explained that as with the secret ingredients for Coca-Cola, the key to exactly how the materials are manufactured and purified are known by only two people. Whilst DCM has patents covering elements of the process, accessing the patent alone is not enough to engineer a lookalike process to produce the molecule in the same pure form DCM is achieving. The precise production process is held in secrecy. Investors can however be reassured that this key intellectual property is written down and held in a vault. Just in case.
There is a relatively short list of discoveries that truly make a step change in technology, printing circuits on silicon has been one, but the next great leap requires high precision timing for circuits, and for critical circuits that timing needs to be supplied by an atomic clock.
Nowhere is this more important than on GPS chips the difference between the chip in your phone or watch being able to pinpoint you to the nearest five meters as at the moment and being able to locate you to the nearest millimetre is down to the accurate of the synchronisation of the clock in your phone and the clock on the satellite it is locating to. Atomic clocks can deliver this accuracy now,, but simply don’t miniaturise well due to the power they need. Placing [email protected] at the heart of the clock, with its super consistent stable time signal resolves the problem and despite being the worlds, most expensive substance can be used sparingly enough to ensure that on the near horizon everyone will be wearing an atomic clock on their wrist.
For investors who’s interest is piqued, Oxford Technology Management is currently raising EIS funds for this and the other technology companies in their stable.