Konarka Technologies, a US thin-film solar manufacturing company, is to file for bankruptcy protection.

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the company will cease to operate and a trustee will begin the process of liquidating its assets in order to pay off creditors, who must submit their claims to bankruptcy court.

Konarka is the 16thsolar company to have gone out of business in the past year. Its chairman, Howard Berke, said the filing was a “tragedy” for the development of solar energy in America as well as for the company’s investors and employees – more than 80 staff will lose their jobs.

Konarka received a $1.5m grant from the state of Massachusetts in 2003, which was personally delivered by then-governor Mitt Romney.

Romney is now under fire for the speech he made when delivering the grant in which he reportedly called for more money to be poured into the renewable energy sector.

“The trust fund has been growing for years, and I believe now is the time to refocus its assets in such a manner that it can become a major economic springboard for the Commonwealth by focusing on job creation in the renewable energy sector,” he said. 

Berke and Alan Heeger, the winner of the Nobel Prize for his work in conductive polymers, founded Konarka in 2001. The company is known for its photo-reactive polymer material invented by Heeger. 

Konarka’s proprietary material can be printed or coated onto flexible substrates using roll-to-roll manufacturing, similar to the way newspaper is printed on large rolls of paper.

Among the company’s assets are over hundreds of owned and licensed patents and patent applications in the field of solar energy and a high-end manufacturing plant in New Bedford, Massachusetts.