1366 Technologies Gets $20M Round to Move Solar Tech into Production

10/19/10

1366 Technologies has the cash to advance toward production of technology that could reduce the cost of solar energy. The Lexington, MA-based firm said today it has brought in $20 million in Series B funding, including investments from Korea-based Hanwha Chemical and the European cleantech investor Ventizz Capital Fund.

Those new investors joined previous backers North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners in funding 1366, which has now raised a total of $37.6 million. In addition to investing in 1366, Hanwha is planning to become a buyer of the Massachusetts-based firm’s silicon wafers. 1366, an MIT spinout founded in 2007, has been rapidly developing an efficient process of making silicon wafers that’s more cost-efficient and wastes less silicon than standard techniques, according to the company.

“Now, with this investment, we’re moving towards manufacturing,” Frank van Mierlo, the CEO of 1366, said in a press release. “Our goal is to bring our transformative Direct Wafer technology into production and deliver the manufacturing innovations that will make solar electricity cheaper than coal.”

Indeed, the firm has made significant strides in proving that its production method could be done on a commercial scale. In December 2009, the Department of Energy awarded the firm a $4 million grant to advance development of the technology, which produces silicon wafers that can be used in the existing supply chain for manufacturing photovoltaic cells.

1366 also received DOE funding to develop a new solar-cell architecture that it has been selling for the last year under the name “Self-Aligned Cell.” 1366 co-founder and chief technology officer Emanuel “Ely” Sachs, who is a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, told Wade last year about how the architecture uses unique texturing and a new metallization pattern to allow solar cells to trap more light and convert it to electricity.

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