CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world.


Green Jobs Semprius's new high concentration solar cell is half the size of a pinhead

Published on July 27th, 2011 | by Tina Casey

5

Pinhead-Sized Solar Cell Will Create Hundreds of New Green Jobs



Semprius's new high concentration solar cell is half the size of a pinheadSolar start-up Semprius is on the verge of generating more than 250 new green jobs over the next five years with a new ultra-small solar cell that is half the size of a pinhead, called a high concentration photovoltaic cell. The company has just announced plans to build a new factory to make the cells in Henderson, NC, which has been struggling with an unemployment rate as high as 13.3 percent this year. The kicker is that the commercial potential of the new cell was pushed forward in partnership with federal research and development funding, without which the new cell and all those new jobs would still be a twinkle in someone’s eye.

Federal Support for Green Jobs

The new factory – and the new green jobs – are the direct result of federal support for renewable energy innovations even as far back as the Bush administration. In 2007 Semprius (a spinoff from research conducted at another public institution, the University of Illinois), won a “NextGen” grant from the Department of Energy to develop the technology leading to ultra-small solar cells. In 2010 under the Obama administration the company earned a coveted spot in the Photovoltaic Incubator Program. That status gave the company access to federal resources and guidance from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in order to get the technology into competitive shape for mass market production.

Sunshot and the Solar Energy Market

The Incubator program dovetails with President Obama’s Sunshot Initiative. As with the Moonshot program of the 1960′s, which deployed  massive public resources to coordinate and support innovation leading to a new era of space exploration, Sunshot is designed to get cutting edge solar technology out of the lab and into the hands of people who can use it, leading to a new era in safer and more sustainable energy production.

Micro-Printing High Concentration Solar Cells

The minute size of Semprius’s cell  and its potential for low-cost production are made possible by the use of standard manufacturing processes combined with micro-transfer printing, which applies circuits through a chemical reaction to eliminate the “dicing” or separation step of the process. When combined with powerful but inexpensive lenses, the new cells concentrate energy from the sun more than 11,000 times.

More Green Jobs in the U.S.A.

Semprius joins 20 other solar startups that have cycled through the Incubator program in the past few years. The result has been $1.3 billion in private investment against only $50 million in Department of Energy funding. According to Minh Le of DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Program, including Semprius’s 250 jobs the program has already yielded 3,800 full time positions planned for new solar factories in the U.S., in addition to the hundreds of employees already at work in R&D and other high value positions.

Image: Courtesy of Semprius.

Read More About Sunshot and Low Cost Solar Technology:

Print Friendly

Tags: , , , ,


About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Pingback: New Solar Module Efficiency Record | CleanTechnica

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Woodhouse/100000604485913 John Woodhouse

    for every billion the oil companies make they should donate a A percentage to show they are on board with helping americans save o fuel costs or we will all be broke soon enough/

  • http://twitter.com/BetterMind4U BetterMind4U

    I was so excited . Then I read “The kicker is that the commercial potential of the new cell was pushed forward in partnership with federal research and development funding,” & “direct result of federal support for renewable energy innovations even as far back as the Bush administration. In 2007 Semprius (a spinoff from research conducted at another public institution, the University of Illinois), won a “NextGen” grant from the Department of Energy to develop the technology leading to ultra-small solar cells. In 2010 under the Obama administration the company earned a coveted spot in the Photovoltaic Incubator Program. That status gave the company access to federal resources and guidance from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in order to get the technology into competitive shape for mass market production.” All gov. $ so what do the people get a few jobs ? who gets all this $ ? The Energy may be clean but the money ? I have to wonder . How much has this cost us so far & when should we get a return on our investment ? Clean Energy is awesome ! BUT, not when it is only viable as a energy welfare system . Just Like the Ethanol & all the solar . When the USA sponsors research we should get the same return (or better from our investment. ) as Wall St.

    • Anonymous

      Most of the technologies we rely on today are here today because they got early government funding for research & development. Companies don’t have the long-term vision or resources to do this in most cases. Sometimes it takes years of investment to get a technology up, but then that technology can save society billions of dollars. We would be living in a much more harsh and less technologically advanced world if it weren’t for government investments in technologies such as this.

  • http://www.solarbyharrimans.com David@Solar Panels Venice FL

    I would imagine the opportunities for a solar cell this size must be endless. It only seems to be the size of a camera lense you typically see in a smartphone, so I am sure we will see a lot more smaller devices being powered by this! It is also refreshing to hear that jobs are being created in America and production is being kept here, rather than being farmed out overseas.

Back to Top ↑