Amazon is lead investor in US-based solar cell production facility


Ambient Photonics secured $31 million in Series A financing for a solar cell production facility, led by Amazon through its Climate Pledge Fund, and Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Future Shape, and I Squared Capital also participating in the round.

Ambient Photonics develops a unique low-light energy harvesting photovoltaic (PV) technology that the company reports can generate as much as three times more power than conventional technology. Its cells are made using an industrial printing process through which proprietary energy harvesting molecules are applied to thin and durable glass substrates to create cells of virtually any size and shape.

According to Ambient, its performance breakthrough began by reinventing the chemistry of the dye sensitized solar cell with novel, proprietary molecules. In a dye sensitized solar cell, the amount of electrical power produced depends on how effectively the photons are absorbed by the dye. Ambient reports that it has created superior dye chemistry that produces unmatched power density. The Ambient team has developed more than 40 novel, organic sensitizer molecules used to create groundbreaking proprietary dyes tuned for low light conditions which absorb light across the entire visible electromagnetic spectrum for the highest possible efficiencies.
Ambient’s metal-free, synthetic organic dyes have tunable electronic and optical properties. This enables Ambient cells to be optimized for the full range of indoor light sources including compact fluorescent, halogen, LED, incandescent and diffuse or shaded natural light.

Compared to semiconductor vacuum manufacturing methodologies, Ambient said its rapid production process is efficient, scalable and lower cost. Ambient works with global smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) device manufacturers on embedded solar cells. The technology reportedly can deliver power density from a broader spectrum of ambient light.

By powering smart home and IoT devices with embedded solar cells, batteries are not needed—thus reducing landfill waste.

“Disposable batteries are both a consumer inconvenience and a significant environmental problem,” stated Matt Peterson, director of The Climate Pledge Fund at Amazon. “We are excited that through The Climate Pledge Fund we will invest in Ambient to help in their path toward creating innovative solutions to decrease the carbon footprint of battery-operated devices across industries.”

“We believe Ambient has the potential to catalyze more sustainable systems across growing global industries, including consumer electronics, smart home and IoT. Ambient’s technology offers the first viable solution to cost-effectively power these devices with clean, renewable energy,” said Sasha Brown, partner at EIF.

Ambient will also progress its Part II application for a $162 million loan guarantee under the US Department of Energy (DOE) Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program. The facility is expected to provide hundreds of local jobs while also reducing Scope 3 emissions.

“IoT sensors are everywhere. And each one has a battery that gets replaced and added to toxic trash,” said Tony Fadell, Nest founder and author of Build. “Ambient Photonics’ revolutionary low light solar cells bring us within reach of the Holy Grail: a batteryless, wireless IoT network.”

Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund was launched with $2 billion in funding from Amazon and is intended to support the development of sustainable technologies and services that will enable Amazon and other companies to meet climate goals a commitment to be net zero by 2040. Amazon and Global Optimism co-founded the commitment program, called The Climate Pledge. The Pledge includes a commitment to reach the Paris Agreement threshold ten years early. Verizon, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), and Infosys have also joined the Pledge.

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