Next Energy Technologies, Inc. (NEXT) is a start-up that evolved from faculty research at the Institute for Energy Efficiency. Their focus is on developing an entirely new generation of solar technology based on breakthrough organic semiconductors pioneered at UC Santa Barbara. NEXT’s soluble small molecule organic photovoltaic technology, or SSM-OPV, enables solar cells to be printed as an ink in a low-cost, roll-to-roll process akin to printing a newspaper or photographic film. The small molecules at the heart of this technology uniquely enable NEXT to overcome limitations of earlier generations of polymer-based thin-film solar. Specifically, NEXT’s SSM-OPV materials dramatically improve the scalability, stability, and efficiency over previous generations of OPV, resulting in product lifetimes and conversion efficiencies that can be competitive with conventional solar technology.
The end result is rolls of extremely inexpensive, lightweight, and flexible photovoltaic material that can be usedin both conventional and innovative applications, ranging from commercial rooftops and solar farms to military tents and window films. NEXT’s technology opens up new opportunities for integrating solar power directly into a range of materials and surfaces, thereby enabling new access, new applications, and new markets for solar power. [ink flask]
NEXT was founded by Corey Hoven and Arnold Tamayo in 2010, based on technology developed in the research groups of Institute faculty Guillermo Bazan and Quyen Nguyen, with support from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Center for Energy Efficient Materials (CEEM) at UC Santa Barbara. NEXT was named winner of the Technology Management Program’s New Venture Competition for 2010, and, working with the Office of Technology and Industry Alliances, exclusively licensed the technology from the University of California.
Founding CEO Daniel Emmett joined the team in May 2011, and first funding and operations were underway in Goleta, Calif., by June 2011. NEXT currently employs 14 staff, including eight Ph.D. scientists and six UC Santa Barbara graduates, and operates a fully functional R&D facility equipped for synthesis, characterization, device fabrication and testing of its proprietary SSM-OPV materials and solar cells.
NEXT has received R&D funding awards from the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, and the National Science Foundation. It is also receiving direct R&D support under the terms of a technical collaboration with a large global chemical company on the development and scale up of its semiconducting inks. NEXT plans to deliver its lightweight, flexible solar product to the market in late 2015.