Neurophos raises $7M to create exotic chips for AI

A semi-stealthy startup called Neurophos says it’s raised $7 million in seed funding to support the development of a chip that makes use of metamaterials for heavy-duty AI applications. And although the company’s HQ is in Austin, Texas, it has plenty of connections to Seattle-area tech leaders.

Founded in 2020, Neurophos was one of the first companies to receive pre-seed support from MetaVC Partners, a metamaterials-centric venture fund backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold. Neurophos’ co-founder and CEO, Patrick Bowen, previously contributed his expertise to Seattle-area metamaterials ventures such as Kymeta and Lumotive.

Tom Driscoll — the founder and chief technology officer of yet another Gates-backed metamaterials venture, Kirkland, Wash.-based Echodyne — is listed on Neurophos’ website as its CTO and co-founder. Kymeta’s former CEO, Nathan Kundtz, is listed as a board member.

The aforementioned ventures all rely on the exotic properties of metamaterials — electronic arrays that are structured to bend light in a variety of wavelengths, in a variety of ways, without the need for moving parts. Bowen told me that such properties could reduce the size and the energy requirements for photonic chips that could be tailor-made for artificial intelligence platforms like ChatGPT.