National Semiconductor is jumping into the solar business with technology that's designed to maximize the output of solar panels.
Lack of sunshine and even dirt buildup can prevent solar panels from working well. The company's SolarMagic technology is supposed to recover half of the energy that would otherwise be lost by such obstructions.
"National's entry into the photovoltaic market is a natural extension of our focus on energy efficient systems," CEO Brian Halla said in a statement.
The Santa Clara, Calif., company's other products include PowerWise energy-efficient circuits for mobile phones and medical equipment.
SolarMagic would be compatible with different types of photovoltaic solar panels that already exist on the rooftops of homes and businesses, and would add about 10 percent to the cost of a solar panel, according to the company.
California installer REgrid Power claims that in its tests, the technology improved energy output by 44 percent of shade-blocked panels and by 12 percent overall.
National Semiconductor is describing SolarMagic as a "module," but is not yet disclosing additional details about the nature of the product.
The company plans to offer SolarMagic early in 2009 to solar system installers after expanded field trials.