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Materials – Diamonds
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
We spoke to the Co-Founders of Appsilon Enterprises a human-made diamond startup that has recently secured $20 Million in funding to further its diamond growth engine.
Appsilon’s journey begins with a group of 3 friends in their native Turkey. Although now officially headquartered in the Netherlands, its founders tell us what led them there and where they plan to take Appsilon in the future.
Q: Let’s start at the beginning, tell us about Appsilon and what it is you guys do?
Taylan: Our expertise lies in the realm of synthesizing diamonds that are identical in every way to those that occur naturally.
Through advanced techniques and state-of-the-art equipment, we are able to create diamonds that are indistinguishable from those found in nature, much like how ice in a refrigerator is identical in composition and structure to ice found in Antarctica.
Q: How did Appsilon come to exist?
Taylan: We were friends from university, and we reunited after I had gained significant experience in the realm of graphene synthesis, having conducted over 900 experiments during my tenure at a highly reputable military institution in Turkey.
After reuniting, we came together and decided to start synthesizing diamonds. We also have different backgrounds so Gokay has a different point of view.
Gokay: Having previously been involved in the software industry, specifically in the commercialization of technology within a startup, I bring a unique perspective to our current venture in diamond synthesis.
The transition to this new industry allows me to apply my skillset in a fresh context, while my role remains fundamentally similar.
Q: How did form your team?
Taylan: Between 2017 and 2020, Appsilon’s team consisted of just six people, who were primarily engaged in the development of the chemical processes and reactor systems. To augment the capabilities of the team, several interns were recruited from our university, and upon the completion of their internships, they were offered full-time positions with the company.
As a result, Appsilon has experienced minimal employee turnover, with the core team remaining relatively stable since the middle of 2020. The only departures from the company have been individuals pursuing advanced academic degrees.
With the recent infusion of new investment, the company intends to expand its workforce from 30 to 60 individuals, with an emphasis on both technical and business development.
Q: Where are you in terms of your funding?
Gokay: Appsilon’s financial journey began in 2017 with the securing of seed funding in the amount of €1.5 million, followed by an additional grant of €1 million. As the company continued to demonstrate growth, additional funding in the form of €2.5 million was provided by investors.
Taylan: Yes, from 2017 to 2022, Appsilon was able to raise a total of $6 million from various investors and venture capitalists.
In 2022, the company achieved a significant milestone with the closing of an investment from Esas Private Equity, one of Turkey’s most prominent family-based private equity firms, resulting in the raising of €12.5 million. Furthermore, Appsilon was also awarded a €1 million grant from the Quantum Delta SME program.
Gokay: In total, the company has successfully raised nearly $20 million in funding, moving beyond the traditional stages of Series A or Series B funding, and focusing instead on scaling-up operations – that’s the key!
Q: So, where is Appsilon now?
Taylan: In 2021 we moved our headquarters to the Netherlands, so we are now a 100% Dutch company.
Q: What was the motivation to go to Delft?
Taylan: Diamonds, known for their exceptional brilliance and lustre, have been traditionally been utilized in various applications such as jewelery and optical lenses.
However, at Appsilon, we have been keenly interested in exploring the cutting-edge applications of diamonds, particularly in the realm of quantum computing and the semiconductor industry. These areas represent a more exciting frontier.
The city’s thriving research community and proximity to leading companies in the field of quantum computing will enable us to further advance our offerings in the field.
In addition to providing solutions for quantum computing, Appsilon is also committed to sustainability and environmentally conscious production, by creating quantum-grade diamonds using ethical and eco-friendly methods.
Gokay: Appsilon is not a mere jewelry company, but rather a materials company that is deeply invested in the development of cutting-edge technology.
Our core focus is on using this technology to become an integral part of the European ecosystem. This objective was a key factor in our decision to relocate to the Netherlands, a country renowned for its technologically advanced and innovation-driven economy.
Q: What is the solution, that diamonds provide for quantum computers?
Taylan: Right now in phones and computers, you have chips, produced by Intel and made from silicon. For quantum computers instead of silicon, diamonds can be used.
Q: So how is Appsilon split between Turkey and the Netherlands?
Taylan: So, Appsilon Turkey site is owned by Appsilon Netherlands.
In Turkey, we have three facilities, staffed by our talented Turkish friends.
Q: Tell us about the technology…
Taylan: At Appsilon, we possess the technology required to manipulate and control plasma environments, which provides us with a unique opportunity to synthesize a wide range of diamonds, from those suitable for jewelry to those of medical grade quality to those of quantum level and electronic grade quality for semiconductors.
This technology allows us to produce diamonds with specialized properties and characteristics that are tailored to specific applications.
Q: How long does it take to create diamonds?
Taylan: It depends on the chemical recipe that you developed for your own reactor but I can say from 1 week to 1 month. The diamonds take time so the reactors must operate 24/7 so your infrastructure needs to be really stable.
I would say to be successful you need three things infrastructure, reaction and the chemical recipe needs to be excellent.
Q: How does that timeline compare to naturally occurring diamonds?
Gokay: Actually, it’s the same time just that in nature those diamonds stay underground for millions of years.
Taylan: Yes, the time of formation is the same but the movement of the diamond to the surface of the earth is what takes years and years.
Q: So, what are you thinking will be the application for your diamonds? Will you stay in the quantum and electronics solutions?
Gokay: We view diamonds not only as a luxury item used in jewelry, but also as a versatile material with a wide range of high-tech applications. By engineering diamonds at an industrial scale, we aim to optimize their properties to suit different usage cases.
Our perspective is to focus on the diamond as a material and to master the technology required to control it in the most effective way. This includes the ability to synthesize diamonds of various qualities, such as jewelry grade, medical grade, or electronic grade for semiconductors.
We strive to be at the forefront of diamond engineering, constantly exploring new ways to use this material in high-tech applications, and contribute to the growth of the industry.
Q: What areas are you looking to develop?
Taylan: Due to the fact that we are doing technology-challenging business, we always need to develop our own technology.
Our team has already developed diamond deposition for small-sized diamonds. The challenge is now to scale to highly perfect, large-area 2-inch diamond wafers, suitable for use in existing waferfabs. In our research lab in Delft, we are already working on diamonds as a quantum material. This advancement awarded Appsilon an SME grant from Quantum Delta.
To realize the great improvements of diamond for energy, transport, and data, Appsilon needs to establish dedicated tools and highly skilled people in its facilities in Delft. This is why we are also looking for other possible grant applications & co-operations