March 17, 2003
Energy on a roll
by Diana Pounds
Think solar technology and you probably visualize a blue panel jutting from
the ground like an oversized photo frame. Picture this instead: A plastic
sheet not much thicker than a heavy-duty garbage bag, flexible enough to
roll and packed with photovoltaic devices. It can power or recharge your
cell phone, portable disc player or PDA. Take a roll of it camping and you
could charge lanterns, flashlights, radios and (if you're Type A enough to
take one along), the laptop.
The stuff is PowerFilm and it's produced by Iowa Thin Film Technologies. The
Ames manufacturer uses a unique process to produce PowerFilm and a second
product, thin semi-conductor devices, on a continuous roll.
Potential uses for PowerFilm modules, which draw energy from sun or light,
are many -- small electronics, ag equipment like water tank heaters, even
space shuttle gadgets. The semiconductor devices can be used in things such
as TV screens, computer monitors, medical imaging and digital cameras.
With its technology platform well established, Thin Film's focus has turned
to growth and partnering with companies that use its technologies in their
products. The forecast is sunny for the 25-employee manufacturer thanks, in
part, to assistance from Iowa State University business experts.
Staff at the ISU Research Park, Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and
Small Business Development Center have provided valuable business consulting
support to Iowa Thin Film Technologies, says CEO Mike Coon.
"They understand how to support and develop high technology companies," he
said. "They're a great sounding board on everything from funding to sales
distribution to the kinds of support available to small companies through
various government programs."
Iowa State is good for business.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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