04 Jul 2007
Quantasol, a spin-off from Imperial College, London, aims to commercialize solar cells based on quantum well structures made from gallium aresenide.
Quantasol has entered the GaAs solar cell race currently led by Emcore and Spectrolab, with a kick-start of £1.35 million ($2.7 m) in seed funding. The money will be used to develop the UK company’s technology, which it is calling quantum well photovoltaic, or QWPV, cells.
“Our unique strain-balanced quantum well technology enables us to extend the spectral range of a single junction cell and optimize a tandem cell without introducing any dislocations,” said Keith Barnham of Imperial College, London, founder and director of Quantasol.
“We have fewer tunnel junctions than the Emcore/Spectrolab triple-junction cells, giving better device yield, enhanced lifetime and the ability to optimize for the spectral output of a particular concentrator system.”
GaAs-based solar cells currently hold the energy conversion efficiency record of 27.8% for single-junction devices. Barnham says that Quantasol’s devices come close to this record, achieving 27% at 320-fold concentration.
Quantasol, which was formed in 2006, says that the money will be used to prototype single-junction and tandem cells for three or four lead customers. Barnham believes that a cost-effective solution can be achieved by combining Quantasol's high-efficiency QWPV cells with low-cost, high-concentration systems from its partners.
The £1.35 million seed deal included contributions by spin-out incubator funds from Imperial and Sheffield, and investment groups Numis Securities, Netscientific and Low Carbon Accelerator.