Applied Materials has acquired Baccini S.p.A., a leading supplier of automated metallization and test systems for manufacturing crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. Applied paid $334 million in cash for all of the outstanding shares of Baccini. "This acquisition is a key step in our goal to become the leading equipment supplier to the solar industry," Mike Splinter, president and CEO of Applied Materials, said in a statement. Splinter said Applied plans to reduce the production costs for both crystalline silicon cell and thin film modules while decreasing the grams-per-watt usage of silicon material with its portfolio of solar cell manufacturing technologies. The company hopes the move will make the cost of solar electricity competitive with conventional electricity sources, as well as accelerate the rate of adoption of solar technology for commercial and residential applications, Splinter said. Baccini will be integrated within Applied’s Solar Business Group. Applied’s portfolio of crystalline silicon cell production technologies includes precision wafering, passivation layer deposition, automated wafer handling capabilities, and back-end-of-the-line processes like metallization, laser-based isolation, test, and sorting.