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Preholiday weekend wrap-up: LDK CEO interviewed, mag site redesigns, PV-Tech gets its video on, and

02 July 2008 | By Tom Cheyney | Chip Shots

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With the four-day July 4th Independence Day weekend about to kick off here in the States, it's time for a preholiday sampling of some WWW goodies in the semiconductor and solar PV domains.

The interview in this month's SEMI Global Update e-newsletter comes not from the trade association's worthy Oral History project but translated from the pages of its Semiconductor Manufacturing China publication. Exec editor Doris Dong caught up with LDK Solar wunderkind chairman/CEO Xiaofeng Peng for a Q&A that delves into many aspects of the insurgent polysilicon and solar wafer supplier as well as broader photovoltaic subjects. Given the news of LDK's latest deal with Canadian Solar and its own updates on production capacity expansion, the interview is quite timely.

Here's an excerpt:
Dong: It is said that more than $30 million has been invested into LDK's R&D Lab. How about the direction for research and development at present?

Peng: It is the greatest contribution to the photovoltaic industry by reducing the manufacturing cost, and our R&D team mainly focuses on how to reduce the manufacturing cost during their work. Thickness of the silicon wafer has been reduced from 330 micron at the very beginning to 180 micron at present. The 160-micron silicon wafer is also now in trial operation, which might be thinner in future. The manufacturing process and yield are increasing continuously from 9 grams/watt previously to 6-7 grams/watt at present. The ingot weight is also increased from 270 kg to 450 kg at present.

It is rather a great advancement to gain these achievements in less than two years. We shall take the lead in R&D activities in order to become the largest silicon wafer supplier of solar cells in the world. Our R&D team is still expanding, and R&D activities will be conducted wherever semiconductor industry is prosperous in the world. We will endeavor to utilize global resources.

Our colleagues and competitors over at Solid State Technology have finally relaunched their Website with a new design. Rather than pass judgment at this early stage, I encourage Chip Shots/Fabtech readers to check it out--after you're done reading my blog and making the rounds of this site, of course--and report back via our comment box about what you think of the SST makeover.

Meanwhile, at our other US-based collegial competition, Semiconductor International, Aaron Hand's latest "The Fine Print" blog entry gets the back-story about Ben Eynon's departure from the lithography team at Sematech to take an executive position at Molecular Imprints. Ben was supposed to succeed Mike Lercel as litho director at the consortium, but finally succumbed to MII's years of entreaties to join the nanoimprint insurgents (I like that word today) as VP of marketing and biz development for semiconductors.

As a result, Lercel has to wear two hats until Sematech finds another litho guy, since his assignee stint is over and he's back at IBM managing Big Blue's semiconductor equipment strategy group. "As much as he may have enjoyed the lithography director position at Sematech, he's needed back at the ranch," writes Aaron. "'I had already started my new job, so I'm kind of just doing the filling in as best that I can,' Lercel added."

Good luck to Eynon in his new gig, to Lercel in his efforts to maintain sanity during the transition, and to Sematech in its now-urgent search for a new director!

Finally, a bit of blatant self-promotion. The inaugural "Solar Leaders TV" segment is now available for viewing at Fabtech's sister site, The first installment, taped at the recent Intersolar mega-event in Munich, features an exclusive 10-minute-plus conversation with Q-Cells CEO Anton Milner about the multifaceted activities and plans of his company--from silicon cells to a host of thin-film developments--and the solar PV market landscape in general.

One amusing thing I learned from watching the video is that the company honcho has a bet with the mayor of Thalheim (Q-Cells' HQ location and home to much of its manufacturing) that the company will employ 5000 workers by 2010 (it's already at the 3500 mark)--although Milner did not divulge what the wager consists of.

Compared to many video feeds in the semiconductor/electronics and solar media community, the image/sound quality is professional and the questions are on point: this is not some amateurish, poorly shot, barely audible YouTube concoction that passes for news reporting on certain sites. It doesn't hurt that Milner is an engaging interviewee either.

The Solar Leaders videos will be a regular feature of PV-Tech, with several other interviews from Intersolar in the can and more planned from future events on the photovoltaic calendar.

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