This startup is putting solar cells on a diet, because thinner is better

Gigaom

In the lab of seven-year-old startup Solexel, just south of San Francisco, researchers have been busy re-inventing solar panels made with silicon, the material that already dominates the solar market. The startup is a rare breed these days, and among a dwindling group of venture capital-backed solar materials startups.

Many of these types of startups fell on hard times years back as a glut of cheap solar panels hit the market. Solexel has raised about $200 million in total from investors including Kleiner Perkins, Technology Partners, Intel and DAG Ventures.

But Solexel’s design is novel and it’s developing panels made of ultra-thin silicon solar cells, paired with diodes that can shut down poor-performing ones to prevent them from affecting the output of the neighboring cells. The back of the cells are layered with materials that improve their durability and the efficiency that sunlight is converted into electricity.

PROLOGIS NEW SOLAR PROJECT

We’ll have to…

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