* Discovery Lecture Series
* Purdue's Energy Center
* Purdue College of Engineering
* Discovery Park
* Applied Materials Inc.
* IEEE 2008 J.J. Ebers award

February 12, 2009

Discovery Lecture features expert on sun's power as energy source

Mark Pinto
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The chief technology officer at a California-based leader in nanomanufacturing is the keynote speaker for Purdue University's Discovery Lecture next week on the future of harnessing the sun as a key source for alternative energy.

Mark Pinto, a senior vice president at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Applied Materials Inc., will talk at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Lawson Hall of Computer Science, Room 1142. The lecture, titled "Renewable Solar Energy: Has The Sun Finally Risen on Photovoltaics?" is free and open to the public. A reception, also in Lawson Hall, will follow.

"Mark Pinto's talk on researching and developing the application of solar cells for energy by converting sunlight directly into electricity is especially timely," said Ashraf Alam, an electrical and computer engineering professor and researcher at Discovery Park's Birck Nanotechnology Center.

"Because of growing global demand for clean sources of energy, the manufacture of solar cells and photovoltaic arrays has expanded dramatically in recent years. And with the Obama administration pressing for additional funding in advancing such alternative energy sources, that growth is likely to continue."

Purdue's Discovery Park and the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment are co-sponsoring the free lecture. The Lilly Endowment provided a $1 million gift to Purdue in 2005 to sponsor the Discovery Lecture Series.

A method for generating energy, photovoltaics use solar cells packaged in modules that can be electrically connected in multiples as solar photovoltaic arrays to convert the sun's energy into electricity. Through the photovoltaic process, photons from sunlight knock electrons into a higher state of energy to create electricity.

Photovoltaics, operating mainly from grid-tied electrical systems, generate an estimated 12,400 megawatts globally, enough to power about 7.5 million homes, Alam said. Those energy systems can be ground-mounted, often integrated with farming and grazing, or built into the roof or walls of a building through what's known as building-integrated photovoltaic, or BIPV.

"We are right on the edge of really making solar a meaningful part of the world energy supply," Pinto said. "People need to look at the solar industry in a whole new way. It's here and real, and scaling manufacturing is the key to making solar affordable, globally viable and a true competitor to fossil fuels."

Pinto, who was appointed Applied Materials' chief technology officer in 2004, also leads the company's new Energy and Environmental Solutions business. That unit grew from efforts to expand the company's nanomanufacturing technologies into new markets, including cost-effective measures for solar photovoltaic module production.

Pinto, an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fellow, received IEEE's prestigious 2008 J.J. Ebers award in December 2008 for his contributions to widely applied semiconductor technology simulation tools. He also has been active in industry consortia, including serving on the board of Semiconductor Research Corp. and the Technology Strategy Committee of the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Pinto, an adjunct professor at Yale University, received bachelor's degrees from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 papers and has nine patents.

Discovery Park is home to Purdue's interdisciplinary research programs, with major centers focused on bioscience, nanotechnology, energy, cyberinfrastructure, entrepreneurship, environment, learning, advanced manufacturing, oncological science and health-care engineering.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, (765) 496-3133,

Sources: Ashraf Alam, (765) 494-5988,

Pankaj Sharma, associate director of Discovery Park, (765) 496-7452,

Mark Pinto, (408) 563-0647

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: Journalists interested in arranging an interview with Mark Pinto for a story in advance of the Discovery Lecture can contact Phillip Fiorini, Purdue News Service, at, (765) 496-3133.

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