We read solar patents so you don’t have to…
While you were out carousing this past weekend, I was looking at some of Solyndra’s CIGS solar patents. Here’s what I found:
The patent for “Elongated PV Cells in Casings??? is authored by two former Solyndra employees, Ratson Morad, now with Daystar, and Benny Buller, now with CdTe thin-film leader First Solar (First Solar, incidentally, projects annual production of 1GW in 2009). The other listed inventors are Christian Gronet and Markus Beck, Chief Scientist at Solyndra. (And as I said yesterday: Why do patent holders and early employees leave a company like Solyndra?)
Here’s a link to a drawing of the cylindrical form factor from the patent document. They also have some patent action in interconnecting and securing these very innovative and seriously non-standard solar units.
Since my evening was pretty much shot, I checked out patents by Solexel. Solexel is funded by Kleiner Perkins and Technology Partners. A while back, Daniel Englander and I did a little digging on the company and Kleiner responded by removing most mentions of the company from their Website. We looked into their technology but I think we got it a bit wrong.
These patents, invented by Mehrdad Moslehi describe a 3D thin-film solar cell (TFSC) fabricated with a reusable template sybstrate. (Drawings and photographs below.) And these filings describe a pyramidal 3D TFSC. Interesting stuff and it fits in with the MEMS theme we saw in their job postings.
Solexel’s advisory board includes Peter Peumans, an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford, Deputy Director of the Center for Advanced Molecular Photovoltaics (CAMP) and an expert in solar cell modeling and characterization. Solexel has a CFO, Bob Komin, a post not usually filled in such an early stage firm.
Peumans is also co-founder and Chief Scientific Advisor of NetCrystal, a startup using a technology developed by Peumans’ group at Stanford. Bala Padmakumar is the CEO of NetCrystal, which is funded by Wellington Partners, Siemens, and X-Seed.
Bala is the principal investigator of a $99,000 Netcrystal SBIR Phase I project focused on the development of high-efficiency, lightweight, non-tracking, microconcentrator PV arrays based on stretched silicon. According to the SBIR document, “The stretchable silicon process can achieve accurate placement and electrical wiring of thousands of miniature solar cells in one parallel and potentially low-cost step.???
I’m scheduled to speak with Netcrystal’s CEO this week, providing he forgives me for the above link. We’ll get you more info then.