LONDON – Sol Chip Ltd. (Haifa, Israel), which is developing technology to integrate solar energy conversion with logic circuits, has raised an additional $1 million in funding.
The company is planning to begin manufacture of its chips before the end of 2012 and create circuits that can be used to recharge the batteries of mobile and off-grid devices, extending battery life and equipment independence. Half of the money has come from the Keret program of the state-owned electricity generation and distribution firm Israel Electric Corp. and half from a New York investment bank and private investors.
Sol Chip had previously raised more than $1 million from the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Israeli government and incubator organization Trendlines International Ltd.
Sol Chip, founded in 2009, is not the only company pursuing this technology. ActLight SA (Lausanne, Switzerland) is using CMOS wafers to integrate large numbers of small solar cells with logic in a chip-like component.
But SolChip could be the first to market. The company is transferring its technology to a Fraunhofer Institute site in Germany, which will provide production for hundreds of thousands of units, following the success of reliability tests. Sol Chip is getting ready to provide its first chips to customers before the end of 2012.
Zack Sharon, sales and marketing director confirmed that Sol Chip is developing monolithically integrated solar conversion and logic circuits. The die will be packaged in standard packages with a transparent window such as would have been used for UV-erasable EPROMs in the past.
"The result is that any low power VLSI device will be able to harvest energy for autonomous sustainable maintenance free operation," Sharon told EE Times in an email communication.
"The first product will be an energy harvester with unique features such as several voltage levels at its outputs, up to 8.4 volts. This component will provide power during light time (outdoor or indoor). With simple addition of few passive components, the device can provide power 24 hours a day and enable maintenance free energy for many applications for over 10 years. Examples of applications are agriculture sensors for drip irrigation, herd management and livestock wireless sensors, security wireless sensors, structural health sensors and many more."
The designs are being created in relatively relaxed geometry rules but could be implemented in any technology from 0.35-micron down to the leading-edge at 28-nm, said Sharon.
Related links and articles:
ActLight takes CMOS path to smart solar
EE Times' 20 hot technologies for 2012
Silicon 60 v13.0
Startup QBotix automates solar farms with robots