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Planet Ark World Environment News UK-Backed Fund Supports Organic Solar

Date: 15-Sep-10
Country: UK
Author: REUTERS

The UK-backed Carbon Trust and French chemical firm Rhodia announced on Tuesday that had invested 4.5 million pounds ($6.92 million) in a Cambridge University spin-out focused on organic solar cells.

The new company, called Eight19, aims to exploit technological advances which it says have cut the cost of generating solar power from organic rather than silicon-based materials.

The solar cells can be mounted in plastic, enabling applications built into windows, for example, and integration into buildings for high volume applications, compared with rigid silicon-based solar panels.

The company is so called because it takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds for light to travel from the sun to the earth.

"This represents a great opportunity to transfer new technology out of the University, based on recent advances in fundamental science," said Cambridge University's Richard Friend, co-founder of the new company.

"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."

Organic solar cells are less efficient than solar-grade silicon at converting sunlight into electricity, but can be produced more cheaply.

The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company the majority of whose funding comes from the British government.

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