NetCrystal is using a technology developed by Peumans' group at Stanford, funded by Wellington Partners, Siemens, and X-Seed. Netcrystal's SBIR Phase I project is focused on the development of high-efficiency, lightweight, non-tracking, microconcentrator PV arrays based on stretched silicon. According to the SBIR document
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Expert Collections containing Netcrystal
Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.
Netcrystal is included in 1 Expert Collection, including Renewable Energy.
This collection contains upstream and downstream solar companies, as well as those who manufacture and sell products that are powered by solar technology.
Latest Netcrystal News
Sep 23, 2011
2 I might have been the first and only journalist to report on the founding of solar startup NetCrystal . So it seems fitting that I'm the first, and perhaps only, person to report on their "acquisition" by India-facing solar company Solar Semiconductor. NetCrystal was founded in a different time. In the 2005 to 2008 timeframe, venture firms were giddy about founding early-stage solar firms -- firms that in most cases were best left in the lab. But Wellington Partners, Siemens and X/Seed Capital saw fit to fund this firm with IP based on the work of Stanford University's Peter Peumans and helmed by a newcomer to solar, CEO Bala Padmakumar. NetCrystal had developed a MEMS-style solar technology that let photovoltaic silicon stretch and expand to cover large areas. NetCrystal’s CEO claimed that the device’s efficiency would rival and exceed that of SunPower (~20%) while beating the price claims of the then mightily hyped Nanosolar ($.99/watt -- a low number at the time). Padmakumar said this to me with a straight face. The technology employed Interconnected nodes of PV silicon surrounded by coiled silicon fabricated in a DRIE process upon a flexible polymer substrate. The substrate was then mechanically stretched to expand many times, resulting in distributed photovoltaic zones connected by the now-uncoiled silicon -- ostensibly eliminating the cell-to-cell interconnection now performed on panels using crystalline silicon. The firm had been awarded a $99,000 SBIR Phase I project focused on the development of high-efficiency, lightweight, non-tracking 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. As if that wasn't risk-laden enough, there was also a concentrating lens aspect to the design. At the time, the CEO said he already had some potential customers and was preparing to reveal some dramatic customer news along with some funding activity. Suffice it to say, that never occurred. Padmakumar also said that the company had megawatts of "conditional purchase orders" and plans for large factories. For those not familiar with the term "conditional purchase orders," I discussed this recently with a VC colleague, so allow me to explain. I have placed "conditional purchase orders" with the Ferrari company of Maranello, Italy to deliver 4 California models (see below) to me if they achieve a price point of $10 per unit of horsepower. That is a conditional PO. At a talk given by Stanford's Peumans in 2010 , he said of the technology: "We have not seen anything yet that shows it won't work," adding, "I'd like to think it's going to work. " NetCrystal is listed on the X/Seed Capital portfolio page as having been "Acquired by Solar Semiconductor . " I have contacted that firm and await their response. Here are some photos of the innovative technology:
Netcrystal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Where is Netcrystal's headquarters?
Netcrystal's headquarters is located at Sunnyvale.
What is Netcrystal's latest funding round?
Netcrystal's latest funding round is Acquired.
Who are the investors of Netcrystal?
Investors of Netcrystal include Solar Semiconductor, Wellington Partners, XSeed Capital and Siemens.
Who are Netcrystal's competitors?
Competitors of Netcrystal include Accustrata, Peregrine Power, Tisol, Jem Enterprises, Meridian Deployment Corporation and 13 more.
Compare Netcrystal to Competitors
Primestar Solar is a company that received a SBIR Phase I grant for a project entitled: High Quality, Low Cost, Polycrystalline CdS/CdTe Photovoltaic Cells. Their will develop new processes for producing lower cost and higher quality thin films from the compound semiconductors CdS and CdTe. These will be used to more inexpensively produce high performance photovoltaic modules that generate electricity from sunlight. Thin film CdTe-based photovoltaics currently require a post-deposition CdCl2 treatment and anneal to achieve reasonable performance. This anneal is known to increase the grain size in some films and increase the minority carrier lifetime in all CdTe films. The minority carrier lifetime is generally correlated with device efficiency in photovoltaic cells. However, the CdCl2 anneal cannot be optimized to maximize the minority carrier lifetime because attempts to do so have caused film delamination. Film delamination occurs due to strain induced during the anneal at the interface between the film and the glass substrate. This proposal seeks to develop a film deposition process that simultaneously avoids this problem and makes better quality films. This process will foster large grain growth, defect passivation, and grain boundary passivation while eliminating the need for a post-deposition CdCl2 treatment and anneal. This will result in higher efficiency solar cells and a streamlined production process. Commercially, solar photovoltaic modules are a silent, pollution free means to generate electricity from sunlight. Once the capital investment is made to install a photovoltaic electricity system, its operating cost is essentially zero because its "fuel", sunlight, is free. Photovoltaic electricity provides a means for homes to generate as much energy as they use over the course of a year. The production of photovoltaic modules has been increasing 20-30% annually for the past decade due to increases in efficiency and reductions in cost. However, for photovoltaics to achieve significant market penetration into mainstream electricity generation, this growth rate must be continued. This requires further increases in module efficiency and reductions in module cost. This research proposal addresses both of these issues. Successful development of this technology will ensure the marketplace success of CdTe photovoltaic modules, and pave the way for widespread stable-priced, sustainable, pollution-free electricity generation.
Silicon Photonics Group is a company that received a STTR Phase I grant for a project entitled: Advanced Si-Ge-Sn-based Photonic Materials and Devices. Their research project aims to demonstrate prototype infrared light detectors and photovoltaic (solar cell) devices based on technology developed at Arizona State University. The new technology to be explored consists in growing optical-quality alloys of tin and germanium (Ge1-ySny) directly on silicon wafers. These alloys act as infrared materials, and they can also be used as templates for the subsequent growth of other semiconductors on silicon. Of particular interest for this project is the ternary alloy Ge1-x-ySixSny, grown for the first time at Arizona State University. Using this technology, it should be possible to build infrared detectors covering a spectral range previously inaccessible to silicon-based detectors, and to build multijunction photovoltaic devices for a more efficient capture of solar photons. The fabrication of semiconductor devices on cheap silicon wafers is of great significance because of the potentially enormous cost reductions and the possibility of integrating optoelectronic and microelectronic functions, which further reduces costs and contributes to system miniaturization. The infrared detectors proposed here cover the so-called telecom C-,L-, and U-bands within the wavelength window around 1500 nm, a region of great interest to the telecommunications industry. In the photovoltaics arena, the proposed devices have the potential to offer increased efficiencies to make crystalline silicon-based devices competitive with amorphous silicon solutions.
AOS Solar was started in 2005 to combine the material cost and manufacturing process economics of thin film solar PV with the efficiency and reliability of crystalline silicon solar PV. The company have an initial prototype solar coupon built and tested using technology. nnThe company's key enablers to achieve market traction are the cost and reliability of the company's product. The silicon on glass (SOG) technology the company are developing will enable solar panels costing around $1/watt to manufacture on the company's pilot line, with lower costs as the company ramp up production due to manufacturing efficiencies and learning curve. Solar silicon is an established technology with proven 20+ year life (versus newer thin film technologies). nnToday the company have working coupons at 7.5% efficiency and the company are working to scale up to larger cells with target 9% efficiency in Q-1, 2008. The company's form factor and efficiency limits are based on first generation technology. By scaling the company's manufacturing and improving the company's technology the company expect to achieve 16 - 18% efficiency in a single junction and 22 - 24% efficiency in a double junction module. nnThe company's A round funding will be used to continue development of the company's equipment / process technology in order to manufacture on larger substrates (2.5' x 4' glass) and to design a scaled up manufacturing line (30+MW annual capacity) based on this development.
3GSolar Photovoltaics is a developer of solar energy using DSC (dye solar cell) photovoltaic technology with first applications for off-grid rural areas. DSC is a cost-effective alternative to silicon and thin film-based systems, providing an environmentally-friendly solution that produces electricity efficiently even in low light conditions.n
Gratings Incorporated is a company that received a STTR Phase I grant for a project entitled: High Efficiency Thin-film Photovoltaics on Low-cost Substrates by Layer Transfer. Their their award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and their project will apply high aspect ratio, nm-scale, columnar, and crystalline Si structures as templates for high-quality growth of thin-film GaAs solar cells on low-cost flexible substrates. Sub-10-nm Si seed layers are expected to facilitate growth of low-defect density GaAs films. The aspect ratio of nm-scale structures also serve as sacrificial layers for removal of completed GaAs solar cell. Epitaxial growth and characterization of GaAs films on nm-scale Si structures will be carried out at the Center for High Technology at the University of New Mexico. Successful phase I STTR research will lead to commercialization of high (~ 20 %) efficient, flexible solar cells for applications in a wide range of terrestrial and space environments. Multiple substrate re-use and inherent large area processing capability of Si will result in significant cost reductions. High quality heteroepitaxial GaAs growth on Si has been a subject of intense research. Due to its direct bandgap, GaAs is attractive for a number of optoelectronics applications and its integration with Si-based microelectronics has been a cherished goal. The lattice and thermal expansion mismatches with Si make it difficult to grow good device quality layers. We have recently demonstrated as the Si seed dimension is reduced below 100 nm dimensions, the quality of heteroepitaxial growth increases rapidly. The nm-scale Si structures are formed using low-cost, large area methods based on conventional integrated circuit processing methods. Successful research effort will lead to reduction in PV generation costs, and enhanced applicability of thin-film PV in terrestrial and space environments because in contrast with competing thin-film solar cells, GaAs thin-film solar cells will not suffer from light-induced performance degradation.
Solarno is a company that received a STTR Phase I grant for a project entitled: Synthesis of multifunctional nanofibrous polyaniline/carbon composites. Their their award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and their project will develop novel multifunctional materials based on polyaniline (PAni) nanofibers (PANFs) and carbon nanofibers(CNFs) for energy storage. Although PAni composites have been reported for a wide range of applications, including sensors, biosensors, photoelectrochromic cells, etc., due to their excellent electrical, thermal and mechanical properties, none capitalize on the enhanced properties expected from the combination of PANF with CNF. PANFs have greater electronic conductivity than PAni nanospheres and nanorods and can be synthesized on a variety of substrates. Solarno will use a proprietary process for synthesizing composites of PANFs on CNFs. In Phase I Solarno will use these composites as electrode materials for asymmetric supercapacitors, an enabling technology that provides both high energy and power, with the specific technical objectives of: synthesizing and characterizing PANFs on CNF substrates, and achieving supercapacitor performance of 15 Wh/kg, 10 kW/kg and >10 cycles, thus far exceeding current lead acid batteries in terms of power and cycle life. In Phase II we will improve the energy density of these devices to enable potential replacement of such batteries, and explore other functions for the composites, such as sensors and electro-chemical devices. The PANF/CNF composites developed by Solarno will be introduced to the supercapacitor market via materials sales, and partnering/licensing arrangements, and later to related electrochemical functions/applications. Solarno is targeting requirements of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) market for its initial supercapacitor designs, and as such, the ultimate customers will be major automobile manufacturers. The market requires that capacitors provide higher energy density, reduced size, higher reliability, and lower cost. Commercially available EDLCs commonly provide energy densities around 4 Wh/kg, and power densities between 15-21 kW/kg. The supercapacitor developed here can excel in this market by providing energy density > 25 Wh/kg and better reliability (>2.0 x 104 cycles); the Phase I work will optimize the properties of our PANF/CNF composite to meet this goal. The supercapacitors will also be well-suited for load-leveling for renewable energy sources; direct societal benefits will come from improving the viability of HEVs and renewable sources, tied to reductions in fossil fuel consumption, providing bridge power for wind and solar power farms, and partially replacing lead acid storage batteries. The results of this work in optimizing PAni composites for supercapacitors will translate well into improved functionality for other applications.
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