September 5, 2006 – In a launch dubbed “the new face of solar,” Applied Materials has unveiled its strategy to make solar photovoltaic equipment its biggest growth engine, leveraging recent acquisitions and existing technology and processes from its semiconductor and flat-panel areas.
“The solar industry has reached the inflection point that Applied Materials has been waiting for” in terms of system throughput, quality, and yields, as well as suppliers’ economies of scale, stated Mike Splinter, Applied’s president and CEO. “We plan to change the cost equation for solar power through adaptation of our existing technology and new innovation in order to help make solar a more meaningful contributor to the global energy supply.”
Applied is setting its sights on an industry expected to triple in size to more than $3 billion by 2010 — industry estimates that do not account for other opportunities in services businesses, the company added. Back in May, Applied Materials announced a $464 million stock-based purchase of Applied Films Corp., Longmont, CO, giving the semiconductor equipment giant complementary thin-film deposition technologies for its flat-panel display systems as well as inroads into the fast-growing solar market. Applied Films’ physical vapor deposition (PVD)-based flat-panel display (FPD) products are seen as complementary to Applied Materials’ existing FPD thin-film deposition capabilities, while Applied Materials’ chemical vapor deposition and test equipment for the FPD’s transistor layer mesh well with Applied Films’ FPD color filter systems and large-area PVD expertise, the companies stated.
Applied Films’ expansion into the solar cell market came partly from a restructuring earlier this year to consolidate its solar-related activities, separately from its display and glass divisions, as it integrates recently acquired thin-film deposition equipment manufacturer Vacuum Coating Technologies, Fairfield, CA.
This week at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference in Dresden, Germany, Applied Materials is expected to show several PVD and PECVD products as well as processes, material-handling technologies and services to support solar cell production for both crystalline-silicon and thin-film solar applications, such as an in-line sputtering system, in-line PVD/CVD system, PECVD technology, and a roll-to-roll coater for flexible solar cell applications.
“This is an exciting new chapter in Applied Materials’ growth story, and we are confident that our experience, products and nanomanufacturing technology solutions can advance the industry and improve people’s lives through cleaner, more affordable energy,” stated Splinter.