MUNICH, Germany Applied Materials enters the rapidly growing market for PV solar photovoltaic equipment. The company offers technology and services that could help cell manufacturers to make the transition to much larger installations.
The semiconductor equipment provider today (September 5) announced that it intends to provide a combination of manufacturing tools, together with technology and process innovations from the flat panel and semiconductor industries that are expected to enable customers to increase conversion efficiency and yields, helping to lower the overall cost per watt for solar electricity users.
The company sees the solar industry at the inflection point, explained Applied Materials CEO Mike Splinter. Against the background of a globally rising demand for electric energy, Applied Materials expects the solar equipment market to triple to $3 billion in 2010. Thus, solar photovoltaic equipment could be an new growth engine for the company that in its traditional purely semiconductor-oriented business experienced limited growth in the past few years.
As the admission ticket to the solar equipment market, Applied Materials last May had taken over Applied Films Corp, a Longmont, Colorado, based expert company for PVD equipment (Physical Vapor Deposition). With Applied Films' technology as well as with own PECVD (Plasma-enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition) equipment and processes Applied Materials promises to enable PV solar cell manufacturers to scale plants based on these products from today's 20-to-40 megawatt to the gigawatt level.
The material-handling technologies, processes and services to be offered by Applied Materials can be used to support solar cell production for both crystalline-silicon and thin-film solar applications.
Applied Material's first products for the PV market are presented at the Photovoltaic Science and Engineering Conference (PVSEC) in Dresden. Also at the event, Scientists from the Hahn-Meitner Institut yesterday had announced coating technology improvements for solar cells based on CIS (Copper Indium Disulfide) instead of silicon that could reduce the need for silicon and thus drive the price for PV solar cells down.