Semiconductor fab tool & electronics materials vendors gravitating towards solar market

Reports that Samsung, the world’s largest buyer of capital equipment, is now putting the brakes on its capital spending, has exacerbated the doom-and-gloom sentiment. Poor memory environment coupled with economic woes have been cited as the main reasons behind semicon equipment vendors’ woes.

A shake-out in the fab tool & electronics materials industries is expected.  While consolidation through acquisitions & mergers loom on the horizon (Applied vying for ASMI, Aquest for Asyst etc.), we also see the semicon fab tool vendors gravitating towards the booming solar industry.  Applied has been diversifying out of chip cap-ex and equipment dominance into a strategy of being a solar player, KLA Tencor also entered the solar market with purchase of ICOS vision systems, a company whose primary business is inspection equipment for semiconductor packaging but which has been successful in the more cost-conscious solar wafer inspection market at key processing steps.

The recent SEMICON West had more than 250 exhibitors that had offerings for both the photovoltaics and the semiconductor markets. But it seemed that nearly every exhibitor had some sort of solar story to tell. From manufacturers of high purity chemicals used for microelectronics selling solar cell surface cleaner to Synopsys providing modeling software for the PV industry, there’s a range of interesting synergies being tapped across the two spaces – recommend you to read Semiconductor International’s write-up on some interesting solar stories from the floor

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