International Business Machines Corp. said it is collaborating with a Japanese semiconductor-equipment maker to commercialize a solar-energy technology developed by IBM scientists.
Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co. will work with IBM to develop processes and equipment for the production of thin-film photovoltaic solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Terms of the collaboration weren't disclosed, but IBM said it expects to license the technology and, eventually, collect royalties, rather than building its own large-scale, manufacturing capability.
A number of companies are pursuing thin-film solar cells because they are expected to be much cheaper to manufacture than the current generation of solar cells made from silicon. Thin films are potentially more efficient at converting light into electricity than silicon is. They could even be applied to tinted windows or roofs on buildings and produce enough power for lights and air-conditioning.
Supratik Guha, the scientist leading photovoltaic activities at IBM, said the two companies aim to develop the technology "to a point where we can build a pilot" manufacturing line to make photovoltaic modules.