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PV Start-up Shines in NREL's Eyes

Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:14am

Energy News: More from the NREL: they announced that a photovoltaics start-up, Wakonda Technologies, is the winner of the Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year award. Wakona's name derives from a native American word regarding spirit and nature; they're working on thin films of gallium arsenide for solar cell substrates. Typically thin-film cells only make 10 percent efficiency, compared to 15-20 percent for traditional crystalline silicon, Wakonda president Les Fritzemeier explained. He's got a Ph.D. in material science from Columbia University, and is applying for four patents on a currently secret method of improving metal foil to increase GaAs' power to 15 percent. That would mean less cost for more power, with the assistance of researchers at Cornell University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and NASA's Glenn Research Center. The NREL prize is only $10,000 but the real-world implication is that Wakonda becomes a hot startup to watch. They're looking for venture capital and could head for an IPO or acquisition soon. (Note: external links open in new windows.)

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