R.I.P: Ampulse Solar 0

Solar startup Ampulse of Golden, Colorado is winding down its operations, according to sources. Calls to the CEO and the firm’s VC investors have not been returned.

When we reported on the 150+ VC-funded solar startups in the last few years, we were clear that the majority would not survive and the shakeout would be painful. The loss of the ten-employee startup Ampulse is just a small step in this necessary consolidation.

Ampulse wanted to deposit a thin layer of monocrystalline silicon on a copper foil. Armed with substrate and buffer technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Hot-Wire Chemical Vapor Deposition epitaxial silicon processing from NREL, Ampulse aimed to grow high-efficiency monocrystalline cells directly from silane gas.

The firm received more than $10 million from Globespan Capital Partners, El Dorado Ventures, Battelle Ventures and the DOE.

The firm was founded in 2008 when solar panels and silicon were a bit more expensive. In 2009, investor Daniel Leff of Globespan Capital said that Ampulse was on a “radically different cost curve” and would still outshine competitors even with the cheaper silicon and their push to improve efficiencies.

People close to the company observed very slow progress over the last few years and an inability of the Ampulse approach to support high (or even moderate) efficiencies.

Ampulse falls in the direct-gas-to-wafer technology segment, along with Solexel and Crystal Solar. Crystal Solar’s CTO recently left the firm, according to sources and his LinkedIn profile.

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