Innovation Spotlight: Ultra high efficiency and lightweight solar cells

November 19, 2012 08:57 PM EST By: Regina Ramazzini

Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit Innovation Tracker: Alta Devices, TechConnect Accelerator participant-Honolulu, HI, 2012

Alta Devices allows for flexible, portable power sources using their proprietary and unique technology, one that can be embedded into many materials. Alta Devices manufactures the thinnest and most efficient solar cells in the world. Their technology significantly extends the battery life of their many target applications, often eliminating reliance on the grid or generators for recharge, and thus allowing for ultimate portability.

Today’s portable devices, along with their need for maximum battery efficiency, can be greatly strengthened or weakened by their proximity to a new power source.  With Alta, the energy source is “anywhere the sun shines”, or “anywhere there is light”. Dependency upon a nearby power source is eliminated.  Furthermore, the Alta product generates more electricity using less space and over a wider temperature range than the competition.

TechConnectNews spoke with Ben Lenail, Business Development Director at Alta, who told us that the company has moved beyond the R&D stage and is now focusing on making and selling their products. According to Ben, the company is going after the military market - with a sweet spot for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). These UAVs are currently being deployed by the military, but ultimately will be deployed for civilian purposes. Small, battery operated, hand-launched UAVs can fly for 45 minutes, but upon laminating the aircraft skin with Alta Devices’ ultra light PV material, the loitering time can be multiplied by a factor of six to eight, making the technology extremely attractive for military purposes. Big UAVs are also of interest, and are a great fit for PV cells on wings to allow for continued flying at a higher altitude with longer endurance. Another market they are inspecting is portable power generation systems.  These systems, often shaped like small blankets and tarps, are used by the dismounted soldier and other tactical expeditionary at combat outposts, patrol bases and observation posts, and can quickly charge electronics and recharge batteries.

Alta was selected to present at the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit’s Defense Energy Technology Challenge (DETC) this past August in Honolulu, HI. Mr. Lenail told us that the DETC program was, “A great platform to see what programs and initiatives are being launched, to learn where the funding is, and to make contacts and business development leads.” Since the conference they have continued to cultivate these relationships. According to Mr. Lenail, nearly every day they have a call with a military lab, army research group, or military base, and that many of these relationships were spawned through the conference.

Alta is a Sunnyvale, CA based company that broke the world record for efficiency the last 2 years. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has verified this record with a cell efficiency of 28.8%. The company, founded in 2007, has raised $120 million in venture capital to date and maintains several strategic corporate partnerships. Their mission is to empower their customers in tapping the sun’s unlimited energy as a means to generate cheap, reliable, clean and mobile electricity. They are currently looking to expand their business and build a factory somewhere in the U.S.

For further information about the company, please visit their website at

See the following URL for how Alta Devices’ technology works:


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