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New MIT Start-up Aims to Make Silicon Solar Cells Competitive With Coal

1366 Technologies, a new MIT start-up aiming to make silicon solar cells competitive with coal, today announced it has secured $12,4 million in a first round of financing co-led by North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners.

MIT Professor, 1366 founder and CTO, Ely Sachs, noted that 1366 Technologies will be combining innovations in silicon cell architecture with manufacturing process improvements to bring multi-crystalline silicon solar cells to cost parity with coal-based electricity.

Sachs added, "The science is understood, the raw materials are abundant and the products work. All that is left to do is innovate in manufacturing and scale up volume production, and that's just what we intend to do." The company has just taken space in Lexington to build its pilot solar cell manufacturing facility.

1366 Technologies' roadmap includes a new cell architecture that uses innovative, low-cost fabrication methods to increase the efficiency of multi-crystalline solar cells. This architecture, developed at MIT, improves surface texture and metallization to enhance silicon solar cell efficiency by 25% (from 15 - 19%) while lowering costs. 1366 Technologies will partner with solar companies and government agencies, licensing its technology to accelerate the ongoing global transition to solar. In addition, the company plans to build industrial, 100 megawatt plants around the world.

"Once the pilot plant has proven itself, we'll work with governments and energy agencies worldwide to build a string of factories," said Carmichael Roberts, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners who is joining 1366 Technologies board of directors as chairman.

Also joining the board is Bob Metcalfe, general partner at Polaris Venture Partners, who added, "By driving down the cost-per-watt of silicon solar cells, 1366 Technologies will drive continued development of the solar industry. Solar electricity will be central long term to meeting the world's accelerating needs for cheap and clean energy."

Professor Sachs previously invented the String ribbon wafer technology being commercialized at Evergreen Solar, a leading developer of solar energy products. Both a founder and investor in 1366 Technologies, Sachs is taking a leave of absence from MIT to help build the company based on research developed at and licensed from MIT. Sachs is joined by 1366 Technologies co-founder and investor, Frank van Mierlo, who serves as the company's president. Harvard Business School professor Joseph Lassiter rounds out the board of directors, all of whom hold degrees from MIT.

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