A spin-off company from the University of Cambridge, called Eight19, has been launched today to develop and manufacture high performance, lower cost plastic solar cells for high-growth volume markets.
Spun-out from the Carbon Trust’s Cambridge University-TTP Advanced Photovoltaic Research Accelerator, this latest commercial phase will focus efforts on developing product prototypes, backed by a £4.5m investment from the Carbon Trust and French polymers and chemicals company Rhodia.
Eight19, whose name derives from the 8 minutes and 19 seconds it takes for light to travel from the sun to the earth, has been created in partnership with Prof Sir Richard Friend, Prof Henning Sirringhaus and Prof Neil Greenham of Cambridge’s internationally renowned Cavendish Laboratory, and technology development company TTP.
The Cavendish Laboratory’s expertise in organic photovoltaics has led to development of techniques for fabricating large scale plastic electronic devices on flexible materials using roll-to-roll processes.
Eight19 has a design-for-manufacture strategy that focuses on the unique attributes of organic photovoltaics, combining both specific product performance characteristics and low cost of energy.
Prof Friend said: “This represents a great opportunity to transfer new technology out of the university, based on recent advances in fundamental science. Solar cells made with organic semiconductors work very differently to those made with silicon and are closer in operating principle to photosynthesis in green plants.”
Dr Robert Trezona, head of R&D at the Carbon Trust, said: “The launch of Eight19 and the deployment of low cost organic solar cells could help to revolutionise solar power production by opening up new markets. Cost reduction through the development of advanced technology and innovative design are key to driving forward mass production and making solar power more affordable.”
Rhodia said its investment is in line with its strategy to explore new promising market segments fitting with its sustainable development commitment. It noted its close ties with Prof Friend who won the company’s Rhodia Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Award in 2008.