RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Semprius, a Durham-based startup backed by nearby Intersouth Partners, is red hot in the emerging “green” technology sector.

Tuesday, Semprius disclosed the receipt of a $500,000 grant from the Department of Energy for use in helping commercialize its solar power technology. The grant follows a $6.4 million investment round earlier this month that included In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA.

DOE and CIA – two pretty powerful names to list on a corporate resume.

While a lot of debate continues about whether green technology, cleantech and alternative fuels can deliver on the promise of a less-carbon fuel reliant globe or just drive up energy prices, Semprius appears to be on the right track.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of DOE is putting the $500,000 into Semprius and In-Q-tel is putting in funds because the Semprius folks have convinced them and private investors that they can boost the effectiveness of solar power devices.

As for the secret sauces and applications In-Q-Tel is most interested in – who knows? But isn’t it fun to speculate what MI-6 equivalents of Q at Langley must be working on? 

In announcing its B round of financing two weeks ago, Chief Executive Officer Joe Carr said work was underway to deliver components of solar modules for selected customers. Semprius’ secret sauce is centered around a patented manufacturing process which enables semiconductors to be printed onto glass, plastic or other materials for use in solar panels, liquid crystal displays, advanced disk drivers and other devices.

The DOE had already put some money into Semprius as had the National Science Foundation before Tuesday’s announcement. Semprius also has managed to raise more than $11 million in venture capital despite a downtrodden investment environment.

The new grant is part of a program designed to put commercially viable products on the market by 2012.

Solar farms are going up all over the place, including the SAS campus in Cary.

Who knows, Semprius may soon be a key player in the solar panels going on top of the building where you work – or in that field soon to be covered with enough panels to power hundreds or thousands of homes.

And if solar power proves to be economically viable, Semprius just may be one profitable exit for Intersouth – as well as the CIA.