In December 2019, Silex launched a new R&D project in conjunction with project partners Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd (SQC) and UNSW Sydney (UNSW), to develop a process for the commercial production of high-purity ‘Zero-Spin Silicon’ (ZS-Si) using a variant of the SILEX laser isotope separation (LIS) technology.
ZS-Si is a unique form of isotopically enriched silicon required for the fabrication of next generation processor chips which will power silicon-based quantum computers. Silex’s LIS technology has the potential to efficiently produce ZS-Si to provide a secure supply of this material for project partner and initial customer SQC, in support of its world-leading efforts to commercialise silicon-based quantum computing technology in conjunction with UNSW.
The three-year ZS-Si project, which was awarded a $3 million Federal Government funding grant from the Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) in February 2020, is due for completion at the end of CY2022. The first stage of the three-stage project was successfully completed in June 2020, establishing ‘proof-of-concept’ for the silicon LIS. The second stage of the project involves the design, construction and operation of scaled-up prototype equipment with the objective of verifying the scalability of the silicon LIS technology and the underlying economics of the process. The third stage will culminate with the planned production of initial commercial quantities of ZS-Si from a SILEX pilot production facility, leading to a full economic assessment of the ZS-Si business case.
Silex will retain ownership of the ZS-Si production technology and related intellectual Property developed through the project.
The first commercial quantities of ZS-Si produced from the pilot facility will be purchased by SQC under an Offtake Agreement executed in December 2019.