Applied Quantum Technology gets $10M funding for CIGS 2.0

April 13, 2010
Santa Clara, CA--AQT raised $10 million from its original investor syndicate and plans to partner with Intevac for AQT's CIGS solar-cell production.

Santa Clara, CA--Applied Quantum Technology (AQT) raised $10 million from its original investor syndicate, STPV Holdings and additional undisclosed investors and plans to partner with Intevac for AQT's thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar-cell production, according to Eric Wesoff in an April 7th Greentech Media story.

The story says that AQT previously raised $4.75 million in 2007 and the firm has managed to get pretty far on that relatively modest sum. They've produced CIGS materials at a NREL-validated efficiency of greater than 10%; it has taken most of the other CIGS players several years to reach that efficiency milestone.

Wesoff says that building CIGS solar cells is hard (and VCs are less than patient). Solar still comes down to dollar per watt in what is (arguably) a commoditized market place. He calls these new CIGS player methodologies CIGS 2.0, an approach that involves getting to manufacturing scale and low product cost with a capital-efficient model and innovative business plan, not the brute force, build-a-$1-billion-factory-from-scratch method.

The partnering deal with Intevac will provide AQT with manufacturing capacity for the production of AQT's CIGS cells. Wesoff says that AQT plans to receive its first manufacturing system in the second quarter of this year at its Silicon Valley R&D and production facility. The Intevac equipment and the AQT staff have a hard disk drive pedigree and look to apply these HDD skills to solar.

"This agreement with Intevac is a major step towards capitalizing on AQT’s breakthrough CIGS 2.0 approach," said Michael Bartholomeusz, AQT's CEO. AQT deploys a proprietary process on Intevac's manufacturing platforms with the aim of producing high-performance, low-cost CIGS thin-film PV cells. AQT’s CIGS technology allows for continuous in-line manufacturing, which simplifies and streamlines the manufacturing process.

AQT has lined up a customer who plans to assemble AQT's solar cells into panels for an installation in Mexico.
In the words of founder Brian Bartholomeusz, "AQT has developed and is executing on a very broad, pragmatic business model that is based on innovation and leverage. Even at this early stage with minuscule funding and a tiny team [15 people] we have put in place all the building blocks for our future development: manufacturing partners, strategic suppliers, bankability, customers, and sales channels."

--Posted by Gail Overton; [email protected];

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