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18 July 2007


Applied recruits Nanosolar’s chief scientist and CIGS PV expert Eberspacher to lead solar R&D

Process equipment maker Applied Materials Inc of Santa Clara, CA, USA says that Dr Chris Eberspacher has joined its Solar Business Group to head its advanced R&D programs. Reporting to the group’s chief technology officer, Dr Winfried Hoffmann, he will lead efforts for both silicon and non-silicon based solar materials.

Eberspacher has a doctorate degree in applied physics from Stanford University and 25 years of experience in solar development. He began his career at California-based ARCO Solar Inc (which later became Siemens Solar Industries, and now Shell Solar), where he led development teams in crystalline silicon and thin-film solar cell technologies. Most recently, Eberspacher made pioneering contributions to nanoparticle-based thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar cell technology at Unisun of Camarillo, CA (which he founded in 1993) and then Nanosolar Inc of Palo Alto, CA, a solar start-up focused on roll-to-roll processing of thin-film photovoltaic (PV) products, where he was lately chief scientist.

Applied Materials has the “expertise, experience and resources necessary to provide the solar industry with the high-volume, low-cost manufacturing infrastructure needed to achieve grid-competitive solar electric power”, says Eberspacher.

“We are excited to have Chris join the Applied Materials team at a time of great business and technology momentum for our group,” said Charlie Gay, VP and general manager of Applied’s Solar Business Group. “He brings a wealth of practical experience in advanced PV technologies that will be critical to delivering next-generation nano-manufacturing innovations that will drive future solar cost reductions.”

Despite its focus on silicon chip making equipment and entering the solar manufacturing equipment sector just last summer (after the $464m acquisition of Applied Films Inc of Longmont, CO, a maker of physical vapor deposition-based thin-film deposition equipment for flat-panel display manufacturing), by mid-May Applied had taken orders for $300m of solar equipment contracts this fiscal year (to end-October), already exceeding its $200m target. The firm is now forecasting solar contracts valued at more than $400m this fiscal year (well on target to exceed its longer-term goal of $450-500m by 2010).

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