Ambient Photonics shows off battery-free devices with indoor solar cells


Ambient Photonics aims to revolutionize electronics with battery-free indoor solar cell technology.

The Scotts Valley, California-based company is showing its tech off at CES 2024, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas next week.

Ambient Photonics is unveiling an array of electronics powered by its pioneering low-light solar cell technology, which could herald sustainable, battery-free devices. The company’s innovative indoor solar cell technology promises to transform the landscape of electronics by converting any light source into a power supply for an assortment of connected gadgets.

The company will exhibit a range of real-world designs to underscore the company’s vision that batteries are obsolete, and indoor light holds the key to powering billions of connected devices sustainably. From remote controls to building sensors and ambient Internet of Things technology, Ambient Photonics showcases the potential of harnessing indoor light as a perpetual power source.

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With early investments from Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and prominent venture capital firms, Ambient Photonics has developed a distinctive dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) capable of delivering up to three times more power in low-light conditions compared to other indoor solar solutions.

Bates Marshall, CEO of Ambient Photonics, highlighted the significance of their breakthrough science in developing high-performance solar cell technology for mass-market devices.

“In today’s world, connected electronics require ongoing power, which too often derives from disposable
or rechargeable batteries,” said Marshall, in a statement. “Solar power has long been an option for certain low-power electronics like calculators or toys, but it’s taken breakthrough science from Ambient Photonics to develop high-performance solar cell technology for mass-market devices.”

At CES 2024, Ambient Photonics will debut their pioneering bifacial solar cell technology, capable of harvesting light energy from both front and back sides of the solar cell simultaneously. The incorporation of these cells into devices like remote controls or sensors enables them to function efficiently, irrespective of orientation, maximizing energy production and enhancing cell efficiency.

“Our bifacial solar cell technology is a game-changer for all kinds of devices,” said Marshall. “We
can imagine a host of connected devices, including electronic shelf labels, building sensors, and more
that not only power themselves more effectively in ambient light, but can also be designed and mounted
in a variety of flexible ways and perform regardless of shape or orientation.”

Leading electronics manufacturers, including Universal Electronics, Chicony, and E Ink, have embraced Ambient Photonics’ solar cells in their latest designs.

Visitors at the Ambient Photonics booth will witness the superiority of their solar cells, powering remote controls with three times the efficiency of legacy amorphous silicon cells and 1.5 times more than single-sided DSSC devices.

In the fall of 2023, Ambient Photonics started large-scale shipments of indoor low-light cells from its state-of-the-art 43,000-square-foot Fab 1 manufacturing facility in Scotts Valley, California. This facility, among the world’s largest low-light solar cell manufacturing plants, underscores the company’s commitment to sustainable and intelligent production methodologies.

Marshall anticipates a groundbreaking future for Ambient Photonics, envisioning a second U.S.-based smart manufacturing facility in 2025 to meet the surging demand for their technology. The company was founded in 2019 with solar cells created by the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry.

“Power is a meta resource — the key to enabling electronics manufacturers to unleash the full, ubiquitous
potential of connected devices,” Marshall said. “Ambient light power is the key to doing so efficiently and sustainably by keeping billions of batteries out of landfills and allowing companies to minimize carbon emissions.”

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