Amorphous silicon may not have the cachet or high efficiencies of CIGS, or copper indium gallium selenide, solar cells.

But people right now can and are making it in large quantities, notes Charlie Gay, who runs Applied Solar, the solar power division of Applied Materials. Applied, in fact, has shipped nine complete SunFab "factory in a box" systems. Eight customers are already producing panels on their SunFab equipment and five of them are in mass production.

Most CIGS makers remain in the development phase.

Applied officially got into the market for making equipment for solar panels three years ago.  The equipment and know-how behind SunFab comes from a few acquisitions and the machines Applied has made for years for the LCD TV industry. Competitor Oerlikon is doing the same.

Want to see a 61 square foot panel of glass get cooked by robots until it's ruby red? Click on the video