Wakonda Technologies Teams with RIT to Develop Advanced Solar Cells




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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.

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging technology, fine and applied arts, and education of the deaf. More than 15,500 full- and part-time students are enrolled in RIT’s 340 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For well over a decade, U.S. News and World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. The Princeton Review recognizes RIT as one of America’s “Most Wired Campuses,” and the university is also featured in The Fiske Guide to Colleges and Barron’s Best Buys in Education.