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Electronics Production | December 12, 2006

The University of Surrey catches high speed tube to success

UK technology venture company IP Group has teamed up with scientists from the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and CEVP Ltd to form a new company, Surrey NanoSystems, to provide commercial tools for producing nanomaterials which will revolutionise the semiconductor industry.

IP Group has financed the joint venture company in which ATI scientists are developing a "NanoGrowthTM" Machine in conjunction with specialists from CEVP Ltd. Using patented technologies and recipes developed by the University, the NanoGrowth machine represents the world's first commercial tool for low-temperature growth of carbon nanotubes, which can provide high quality, high speed connections to the next generation of silicon chips. The low temperatures used permit the use of existing silicon semiconductor materials which are not able to withstand the high growth temperatures previously required for the formation of nanotubes. The research project was also funded by South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) which provided assistance with the early development work, with the aim of helping to realise the potential of nanotechnology in the South East by enabling mass production of nanomaterials as an affordable platform technology. The revolutionary low temperature carbon nanotube growth process is expected to be of considerable use in both academic and commercial laboratories for the development of practical nanomaterial production techniques for high technology applications. Likely applications include low-resistance nanowires in integrated circuits, semiconducting nanotubes for fabricating high performance transistors, micro-miniature heatsinks, ultra-tough polymer composites, gas sensors and light sources for flat panel displays. Professor Ravi Silva, Dr Guan Yow Chen of the University of Surrey and Ben Jensen, Technical Director for CEVP Ltd, represent the driving force behind this world leading development. Ben Jensen has previously developed and built machines for a large range of blue chip customers including IBM, Motorola, Segate, General Motors and Cambridge University. Professor Michael Kearney, the University's Head of School for Electronics and Physical Sciences, commented: "At Surrey we have created an environment which encourages an entrepreneurial attitude towards research and its exploitation. The active support of the University, local businesses, SEEDA and DTI have been essential ingredients in realising this breakthrough in nanotechnology manufacturing." Alan Aubrey, Chief Executive of IP Group, said: "This is our first spin-out company from the University of Surrey since setting up a commercialisation partnership with the university in February. We are delighted to have completed this investment in such an exciting growth area - backed by such a prestigious, award-winning team." Ben Jensen said: "I am incredibly excited by the partnership mix between IP Group, the University of Surrey and Surrey NanoSystems. This will enable the company to break new ground in the manufacturing and use of carbon nanotubes and nanostructures within CMOS process window. It will finally allow the material to be brought into the mainstream semiconductor manufacturing areas that from today should be limited only by the imaginations of the world's leading scientists."
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