While writing a story on the new $1.05 billion Khosla Ventures general fund, I noticed a relatively new addition to the Khosla portfolio of cleantech startups, which now numbers more than 40 strong.
The firm is Izar Solar, and by using conventional means, one would find that the startup, located in Champaign, Illinois, received $3.5 million in VC funding late this summer. That's a pretty hefty figure for a seed round or Round A solar firm these days.
David Ahmari is listed as a Director, as is Frederick Kish.
And this is where things get a little interesting.
Ahmari is listed as a board member at EpiWorks at 1606 Rion Drive in Champaign, Ill. That's the same address listed for Izar Solar. EpiWorks focuses on GaAs and InP-based epitaxial wafers.
The other director, Frederick Kish, is a long-time technologist at Infinera and previously worked at Agilent. Kish's work at Agilent involved compound semiconductors for LEDs, while his work at Infinera involved indium phosphide photonic ICs. Khosla was one of the original investors at the now-public Infinera.
At one point, EpiWorks was looking to address the concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) market.
Using unconventional means and contacts in low places, we've learned that Izar Solar is working on "New Black Swan Improbable Pyro-Nano-Quantum-Thingamajig Technology," a term coined by Khosla in this thin film innovation and investment primer. We've also learned that the goal is ultra-high efficiencies in the 30-percent range at, of course, low cost using non-heroic materials.
This sounds a bit like the Kleiner Perkins-funded Alta Devices, which is attempting to use GaAs to reach those heady efficiency levels. This looks like Khosla Ventures' stab at ultra-high efficiency solar using non-silicon, non-CIGS materials.
We'll keep digging.