Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Tau raises $15M to shrink sprawling particle accelerators

Illustration collage of an atomic structure, graphic shapes, and dollar bills

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A Texas startup closed a $15 million seed round Monday as it looks to launch its "particle-accelerator-as-a-service.

"Why it matters: Particle accelerators typically cost billions of dollars to build and typically span entire campuses. The startup, Tau, has built two the size of a single living room, at a fraction of the cost.

The details: The $15 million came from a single investor: Lukasz Gadowski, founder of the German food-delivery giant Delivery Hero.

Catch up fast: Particle accelerators are best known for their involvement in research areas such as medicine, the environment and subatomic structures. They can also peer into nuclear reactors, solar PV cells and battery materials.

How it works: Typical particle accelerators — the types built by CERN in Switzerland — are made out of copper. They're also gigantic: CERN's Large Hadron Collider stretches nearly 17 miles.

  • A newer series of particle accelerators depends on lasers, which allow them to fit within a room.
  • Tau is commercializing these accelerators and offering on-demand access.

What they're saying: "If you're a biologist or a materials scientist and you need a microscope, all you do is call up Canon or Nikon or Zeiss and you buy one. You can't do that with an accelerator," Tau founder Bjorn Manuel Hegelich tells Axios.

What's next: Tau plans to build a third laser-based particle accelerator.

  • The company will need to raise another $50 million to $70 million for the construction. Hegelich expects to begin fundraising later this year or early next year.
Go deeper