Customer in the News: Soitec Sets Record for Solar Cell Efficiency at 46%

soitecWe noticed that customer and neighbor Soitec Phoenix Labs had a great writeup in the AZ Republic. Their substrate technology was used to make a multijunction solar cell for use with conentrated solar, delivering an amazing 46% efficiency. The standard right now in the mid to low 20% for single junction, the most common technology available. The article actually does a pretty good job of explaining the technology, why Soitec has something special, and some insight into their LED technology as well.

A big congrats to the team and we can not wait to hear when you break 50%!

They have a great video on their CPV efforts on their website.

Soitec is a french company that purchased GaNotec a few years back.  Their Phoenix Labs is across the lake in the ASU Research Park in the ASU MacroTechnology Works building and PADT has provided a variety of services to the company since it started as GaNotec.  We have worked with many of their employees at other Semiconductor Equipment companies before GaNotec was founded. 

Congrats to everyone!

soitec-HL

A Visit to the Solar Impulse Aircraft and Thoughts on Doing Big Things

2013-05-13 11.43.19Our recent visit to see the Solar Impulse aircraft while it visited Phoenix was a great opportunity for us to see some great engineering, share some thoughts on cleantech technology, and be reminded of the power of doing something big.

The Solar Impulse is a “movement challenging conventional thinking to inspire innovation, hope and action among citizens and policymakers.”

Innovation, hope and action about what?

How existing and future technologies can change the way we use energy around the world.

They are doing it by using existing technologies to build an airplane that operates entirely on power gathered from sunlight and that is capable of flying night and day over long distances.  They are currently flying across the US, and are building a second generation aircraft that should be able to fly around the world.

We got some great pictures of the event that you can view on our Facebook or Tumblr

2013-05-13 11.46.25

 

You can learn the technical specifics about the plane here, and about the trip across the US here.  It truly is an engineering marvel in how every inch of the aircraft is optimized to increase the glide ratio and decrease weight.  The entire power train, from sunlight hitting the wings to the turning of the propellers has a total efficiency of 12%, which is pretty impressive if you consider the fact that the solar cells are only 22% efficient.  The motors and the gearbox are, well, like a finely made Swiss machine.

Once we got over the technical aspects of the aircraft we started to listen to the pilot, Bertrand Piccard.  You may recognize his name (no he is not Capt. Picard’s great-great-great grandfather… as far as we no). He was one of the Aeoronauts who made the first non-stop around the world balloon flight.  He honestly and directly pointed out that there is no real practical application for this aircraft. It has the wingspan of a 747 and can only carry one person.  What he did do is talk about using this project as a demonstration, and a catalyst, to get people around the world to understand that today we can all make small changes that will have a major impact on how much energy we consume, and where it comes from.  From the solar cells to the motors to the high-efficiency LED landing lights, every inch of this plane underscores that message.

It also got me to thinking.  We are often too focused on only doing projects that produce a tangible benefit, that generate direct income or fix a problem directly. If you look at history and when we made giant leaps forward, those leaps were usually started by someone doing something that may not have had a direct and practical application. But it inspired, it pushed the technology forward, and in the end it almost always improved the lives of everyone in some way.

Everywhere this plane goes it attracts big crowds. It’s image on TV and the Internet is shared by millions.  It is changing the way people think about cleantech and showing that we have technology here now that can make a difference.  Will we ever travel in a solar powered commercial airplane? No, probably not. But will this effort inspire someone to develop a more efficient motor and better composite material for wing spars?  I am sure of it.

As we left the improvised hanger at Sky Harbor airport I felt that excitement I used to feel as a child, that challenge that pushed me to become an engineer in the first place. Solving difficult problems, using technology to make the world around us a better place, that is what it is all about. That is what makes what we do here at PADT so damn cool.

So here is to doing something big that inspires.  Thank you SolarImpulse. We all need to follow your lead and dream about making big changes, and make sure that inspiration is a part of what we do.

Y201304_23_AcrossAmerica_GoldenGateFlight_Revillard-80

 

 

2013 Cleantech Open Launch

CleanTech Open LogoLast night was the kickoff gathering for the Rocky Mountain region of the Cleantech Open at the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. It was a great gathering where all of the fantastic volunteers who run the event and provide mentoring get some much deserved recognition.

Cleantech-Open-2013-launch-denver-Eric-Miller
2013-Rocky-Mountain-Cleantech-Open-LaunchBetter yet, midnight was the official start for the 2013 Cleantech Open.  If you are involved in a Cleantech startup of any kind, or know someone who is, we strongly recommend that you apply to participate in this years competition. PADT is involved in a lot of startup organizations, accelerators, and incubators, and we have never seen an activity that adds so much value for their participants, giving those that make it through the process with a huge head start on success.

Apply here

Don’t know about the Cleantech Open? Here is a blurb from their website:

The Cleantech Open provides entrepreneurs and technologists the resources needed to launch and create successful and sustainable clean technology companies. We do this through our accelerator programs which provide participants with training, mentoring, infrastructure, relationships and funding opportunities to help grow them into world-class cleantech companies.

Since its inception in 2006, the Cleantech Open has awarded over $5 million in cash and services to support cleantech growth companies. The 727 participating companies in the Cleantech Open’s accelerator programs have raised more than $750 million in external capital.

They also have a great video from last years finals that explains the value of the whole competition:

PADT is very proud to be a regional sponsor and is looking forward to also volunteering throughout the year.

If you have any interest in joining those that are using technology and capitalism to solve the mound of energy and environmental problems that we face, consider getting involved in the Cleantech Open.  You will not regret it.

Colorado Cleantech Open Launch on Thursday, February 28, 2013

CleanTech Open Logo

PADT is honored to be the sponsor for the Cleantech Startup Launch & Learn that is being held at the South Denver Chamber of Commerce.

Here are the details:

Come join us for refreshments and networking with the cleantech community at the South Denver Metro Chamber as we launch the Cleantech Open 2013 Business Accelerator in the Rocky Mountain Region.

This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs, volunteers and sponsors to learn more about the organization and help lead the Cleantech revolution in the Rockies.

Overview of Evening:

5:00 – Networking, Food and Beverages 

6:00 – Overview of 2013 Cleantech Open 
       – Hear from Past Alumni 
       – 2012 Accomplishments & Volunteer Appreciation         

It is FREE, but please register so they can get a good count and have a name tag ready for you:

http://cleantechlaunch.eventbrite.com/

Thoughts from the 2012 CleanTech Open

The CleanTech Open (CTO) is a unique organization in the world of technology startup competitions. As PADT grows our involvement with the CTO, we become more and more enthusiastic about their efforts. I just finished attending our first global awards competition as a sponsor, and wanted to share my thoughts on what makes it so special

The most unique aspect of this competition is the fact that it is more than a competition. When a company applies they immediately enter into a mentoring process that is comprehensive and in depth. Whereas most competitions offer up the ability to chat with a few retired guys, the volunteers that make the CTO so strong are active business, finance, and technology domain experts. Applicants are put through a rigorous training and mentoring process that addresses all aspects of starting and growing a business. So when they get to the actual competition they are much more mature and prepared than we have seen almost any other applicants in other competitions. It is not about winning the pitch, it is about learning.

The other characteristic of the CTO that we find special is that they are focused on companies that are using technology to address real environment problems. Clean water, more efficient energy production, dealing with waste and pollution. Sitting there watching the presentations I realized that the problems we face as a planet are not going to be solved by politicians, laws, treaties, or activism. Like most serious problems that we have faced in history, they will be solved by smart people being creative who apply knowledge and technology. They are working on it.

What a great experience. Thank you to all the volunteers that make it happen and the leadership behind the whole effort. I can’t wait to get involved in the 2013 competition.

20121110-102838.jpg

20121110-102918.jpg