Applied Materials Inc. has announced an agreement to acquire Baccini S.p.A., a supplier of automated metallization and test systems for manufacturing crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic cells. This integrated equipment set addresses critical processing steps in c-Si solar cell production that significantly affect solar cell efficiency and yield, while enabling the use of ultrathin silicon wafers.
Combining Baccini's products and technologies with Applied's semiconductor interconnect processing expertise, manufacturing capabilities and R&D resources will provide customers with world-class, automated production technology for fabricating advanced c-Si solar cells, the company says.
Baccini is a privately-held company founded in 1967 and based in Treviso, Italy. Its product line provides state-of-the-art material handling automation capable of processing wafers less than 120 micrometers thick, which are significantly thinner than those typically used in the industry. Reliable processing of ultra-thin wafers is key to next-generation c-Si manufacturing because it will allow customers to minimize the use of silicon material, which now represents more than 60% of solar cell manufacturing cost, Applied Materials says.
"With this acquisition, Applied will become a leading provider of c-Si cell manufacturing solutions to the PV industry," says Mike Splinter, president and CEO of Applied Materials." As a key supplier to both the c-Si and thin film solar markets, we are committed to driving down the cost and ramping up the scale of PV manufacturing to make solar energy competitive with grid electricity."