The solar powered cell phone

The solar powered cell phone. It sounds like something Jethro might make if The Beverly Hillbillies was still on. But it's coming.

Konarka Technologies, which makes flexible solar cells from organic materials, is talking with consumer electronics companies about integrating its solar cells into their products. Konarka may be able to make announcements later this year, said Marko Maschek, a partner at venture firm 3i and an investor in Konarka.

"It works well in interior light too," he said, so you don't have to stand outside in the broiling sun to get a charge.

Konarka was one of the first companies to come out on the clean tech wave, but it hasn't exactly exploded out of the gate. Since 2001, it has raised $60 million, but most of its revenue has come from design engineering fees, not mass production of solar cells. The flexible solar cells the company specializes in are made from dies or organic materials. Thus, they potentially degrade over time, making them somewhat risky for the commercial building market.

The technology behind Konarka in large part emerged from the labs of Alan Heeger, a Nobel Prize winner at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.


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