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49. Mark Pinto

CTO, Applied Materials

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The pursuit of savings drives radical innovation, Mark Pinto, 50, asserts. "Just to put it in perspective," he says, "you could have built an iPod 25 years ago, but it would have cost $3 million." Similarly, solar panels' efficiency in converting light to electricity hasn't improved much in two decades, he notes, but costs have come down 20% with every doubling in volume. One Pinto advance: the SunFab process he helped introduce in 2007. Borrowing from flat-screen-TV technology, it uses nanotech to turn thin pieces of glass the size of a garage door into solar panels—and does it cheaply. SunFab has helped make Applied Materials the world's leading supplier of photovoltaic manufacturing equipment.

Our objective is simple: hit our development targets, deliver a winning thin-film solution for large-scale, utility installations, drive down costs and enable market acceleration. This is the SunFab sweet spot. I'm confident and committed to making it happen and showing the spirit of technology that turns innovation into industries is alive and well in Silicon Valley.