LONDON Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ely Sachs has said he plans for a startup company called 1366 Technologies (Lexington, Mass.) to develop an improved silicon-based solar cell that can beat coal on cost efficiency.
The amount of energy that comes from the sun is 1366 watts per square meter at the surface of the earth. 1366 Technologies has secured $12.4 million in a first round of financing co-led by North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners. Founder and CTO, Sachs, said the company would be combining innovations in silicon cell architecture with manufacturing process improvements to bring polycrystalline silicon solar cells to cost parity with coal-based electricity.
The company has just taken space in Lexington to build its pilot solar cell manufacturing facility and intends to use manufacturing methods described as low cost. The cell architecture, developed at MIT, improves surface texture and metallization to improve silicon solar cell efficiency from about 15 percent to 19 percent, while lowering costs.
1366 Technologies said it plans licensing its technology to solar companies and government agencies and thus accelerate a transition from fossil fuel based energy to solar. In addition, the company plans to build industrial, 100 megawatt plants around the world.
"The science is understood, the raw materials are abundant and the products work. All that is left to do is innovate in manufacturing and scale up volume production, and that’s just what we intend to do," said Sachs, in a statement.
"Once the pilot plant has proven itself, we'll work with governments and energy agencies worldwide to build a string of factories," said Carmichael Roberts, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners, who is joining 1366 Technologies board of directors as chairman.
Professor Sachs previously invented the string ribbon wafer technology, which is being commercialized by Evergreen Solar, a leading developer of solar energy products.
Both a founder and investor in 1366 Technologies>, Sachs is taking a leave of absence from MIT to help build the company based on research developed at and licensed from MIT.
Sachs is joined by 1366 Technologies co-founder and investor, Frank van Mierlo, who serves as the company’s president.
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