Wales-headquartered G24 Innovations (G24i) has supplied its energy harvesting thin, flexible dye solar cells (DSCs) for an Apple iPad case that doubles as a keyboard.
G24i is supplying the DSC modules to Logitech, a Switzerland-based designer and producer of computer peripherals and accessories for laptops, tablet PCs, and other consumer electronics. The Bluetooth solar keyboard folio, incorporating DSC modules, is designed for the third-generation Apple iPad and iPad 2.
G24i is supplying its DSCs to Logitech on a rolling order basis, with over 50,000 units shipped already. The folios will be sold mainly in Apple stores and other shops, in US and European markets.
Other organic solar cell developers have had limited success targeting the consumer electronics industry with their technology. In 2009 both G24i and Konarka secured early deals for their respective technologies, supplying solar bags for recharging electronics on-the-go. The Logitech partnership could provide G24i with significant orders over time, considering sales of Apple's iPad are in the region of 1 million units a week.
G24i CFO Stephen Burt comments: 'There had been times we almost came to market with our technology but were not quite there with it. To work with a partner such as Logitech you have to be able to supply in volume.'
The company began commercial production in Q4 2011 and manufactures 2,000m of its DSCs a week at its roll-to-roll facility in Cardiff.
In addition to the Logitech contract G24i supplies its photoelectric modules for powering motorised blinds. DSCs work well in low light, achieving 26% efficiency in typical indoor light conditions and can be used in place of disposable batteries.
Logitech has ordered G24i's components in three phases, each order worth around $1 million. Since the initial deal was signed orders have been revised up, says Burt.
No independent performance standards and testing exist for indoor solar cell applications compared with the conventional solar industry, which is largely based on silicon panels used outdoors. As a result G24i has worked closely with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Logitech and its other commercial partner Texas Instruments on a testing methodology. DSC technology was developed at the EPFL, where Logitech also has its roots.
Burt explains: 'This is based on 200 lux under fluorescent lighting, which is based on our clients' requirements.'
The company works with a European supplier of DSC materials and has focused its R&D on optimising these cells for indoor requirements, as opposed to most organic photovoltaic and DSC initiatives, which are targeting outdoor and building-integrated applications. The work includes developing a suitable barrier film that can be tweaked for different indoor, low light applications. Indoor sensors are another market G24i is targeting. Overall the global market for disposable batteries is worth in the region of $80 billion a year.
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Welsh solar cell printing company, which is shipping the dye-sensitised cells for portable electronics bags
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