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Miasole founder has new company

Dave Pearce's new company will try to keep moisture out of solar cells, say sources.

Dave Pearce, the founder and former CEO of thin film solar cell manufacturer Miasole, is tackling another angle of the solar economy with a new company.

The company, named Nuvosun, is trying to develop a film that will prevent moisture from penetrating, and subsequently screwing up the performance of, thin film solar panels, according to sources in the solar industry. Moisture penetration is a problem with thin film solar panels as well as organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs, so Nuvosun may ultimately have two markets. Currently, however barrier films aren't cheap.

CNET contacted Pearce, but have not heard back to confirm these details. However, we know for certain that Nuvosun is the name of the company. He's listed as the CEO of Nuvosun on his LinkedIn profile.

A former hard-drive executive, Pearce was one of the first people in Silicon Valley to try to exploit IT technology know-how to build an energy start-up. Miasole specializes in thin film solar cells that extract electrons from sunlight with copper indium gallium and selenide, or CIGS. CIGS solar cells have existed for years in national labs--the problem has been how to mass manufacture them cheaply and reliably.

Miasole engineers developed a system that sputters the crucial chemicals very precisely onto glass or polymer sheets. Hard drive makers use sputtering machines to spread magnetic particles onto platters. The company received millions in VC funds from, among others, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

Unfortunately for Miasole and Pearce, Miasole was also one of the first companies to discover how difficult the energy business can be. After riding high in 2006, the company missed internal deadlines for production and revenue goals in 2007. Getting a high yield of product out of the solar sputtering system proved problematic. Much of the early investment was used in trying to develop the machinery, according to several sources.

Pearce stepped down as CEO and eventually left the company. Layoffs followed. (Miasole certainly wasn't alone in this regard. Tesla Motors, Imperium Renewables, Phoenix Motorcars and GreenFuel Technologies, among others, experienced similar comedowns in 2007.)

There is a very strong chance that former Miasole employees work at Nuvosun. Pearce is regarded highly by many former associates.