Eight19 and Cambridge Enterprise, the University of Cambridge’s commercialisation group, have announced an intellectual property agreement that will assist in the continued development of high performance, low cost printed plastic solar cells.

Under the terms of the agreement with the University, Eight19 has licensed core IP from Cambridge and acquires the right for a defined period to exclusively license patents created by key researchers at the University in the growing field of printed plastic solar cells, also known as organic photovoltaics.

Eight19 is developing a new generation of low-cost, flexible plastic solar cells that have the potential to dramatically reduce the manufacturing cost and increase the throughput of solar technology, to help address the growing need for renewable power. Eight19 will manufacture the cells at its facility in Cambridge.

This deal secures the forward relationship between the University and Eight19 and provides us with access to the work of some 50 top class researchers.

Simon Bransfield-Garth

The company, which is located on the Cambridge Science Park, was formed in 2010 as a spin-out from the University of Cambridge, backed by a £4.5m investment from the Carbon Trust and leading international specialty chemicals company Rhodia. Eight19’s formation followed its successful completion of the Carbon Trust’s Cambridge University-TTP Advanced Photovoltaic Research Accelerator.

Commenting on the deal, Dr Malcolm Grimshaw, Head of Physical Sciences at Cambridge Enterprise said, “We are pleased to announce the IP licensing arrangement in the field of organic photovoltaics with Eight19 Ltd, which will help to stimulate continuing collaboration between Eight19 and the University.”

Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of Eight19 added, “Eight19 was formed to build on the fundamental research work undertaken in the team of Professor Sir Richard Friend at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. This deal secures the forward relationship between the University and Eight19 and provides us with access to the work of some 50 top class researchers. This first-class resource will strengthen Eight19’s technology development and commercialisation of next generation solar.”

Eight19 is pursuing a design-for-manufacture strategy that focuses on the unique attributes of printed plastic solar technology, combining both specific product performance characteristics and low cost of energy.

Unlike other more familiar thin film solar platforms, printed plastic solar cells are not inherently limited by constraints around material supply or toxicity and benefit from a number of fundamental advantages including potentially very low manufacturing costs, enabled by low temperature and high throughput processing typical of plastic films. They potentially also deliver further value throughout the supply chain where their lightweight, flexible nature enables them to be readily crafted into different shapes and colours to meet market requirements, for example for off-grid applications in emerging economies, such as solar powered lighting, or high volume industrial products.

Eight19 retains close links with the University’s Cavendish Laboratory, a world leader in plastic electronics technology.

Photo credit: sun glow by Deepak Sharma via Flickr