Wakonda Technologies Teams with RIT to Develop Advanced Solar Cells
Nov. 8, 2006
by Paul Stella, RIT or Les Fritzemeier, Wakonda
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Solar power that is comparable in cost to conventional electricity may soon be within reach, thanks to an agreement between Rochester-based Wakonda Technologies Inc. and Rochester Institute of Technology.
The NanoPower Research Laboratories, within RIT’s College of Science, and Wakonda are working together to develop advanced solar cells for government and commercial markets. The collaboration combines the company’s patent-pending concepts, featuring flexible, low-cost solar cells, with RIT’s expertise in the design and fabrication of nanomaterials and compound semiconductor devices.
“RIT and Wakonda bring complementary technical capabilities and years of experience to this problem,” states Ryne Raffaelle, professor of physics and director of RIT’s NanoPower Research Laboratories. “We look forward to helping bring this new technology to market.”
Wakonda is developing solar cells based on III-V semiconductors, the materials that currently exhibit the world’s highest efficiency. The company’s virtual single crystal substrate will provide an alternative to expensive, rigid and fragile wafers normally used for production of III-V cells. Virtual single crystals allow the new solar cells to conform to surfaces and be made into building materials such as shingles and awnings.
RIT’s NanoPower Research Laboratories have researched flexible III-V cells for several years. Capitalizing on that experience, Wakonda expects to have initial prototypes for sale in 2008.
Grants to support this collaboration were made available by the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Energy.
NOTE: Wakonda Technologies’ mission is to enable the delivery of solar power at costs competitive with conventional electricity. The company is developing solar cells based on its proprietary “virtual single crystal” technology that combines the very high efficiency of existing multijunction III-V solar cells with the low cost and high volume manufacturability of flexible, thin film processes.
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