Chinese Electronic Materials Company Supports Samueli School Engineer’s Research

Frank ShiApril 6, 2017 - Advanced technology firm DK Electronic Materials Inc. (DKEM) has donated $1 million to support the work of Frank Shi, a UC Irvine chemical engineering and materials science professor. Shi works on the development of materials, processes and technologies for the packaging and manufacturing of photonic, optical, optoelectronic and semiconductor devices and systems.

Shi’s published research on technologies related to conductive pastes used in solar cell manufacturing and his knowledge of the market influenced DKEM founder and CEO Weili Shi (no relation). While working on his doctorate, Weili sought out Frank’s technical expertise.  The two met in person later through a former student of Frank’s who worked at Henkel Electronics with Weili before he started DKEM.

Headquartered in China, DKEM today is a leading supplier of conductive paste for silicon solar cell manufacturing. About three-quarters of solar cells produced worldwide are made in China. The company maintains research labs in the U.S. and plans to open a subsidiary in the UCI Research Park within a year.

“I am pleased with this support from DKEM and will use it to continue my research of solar cell materials and expand my semiconductor packaging course to cover more issues related to solar cell manufacturing,” said Shi, an IEEE fellow. He says that the relationship may also provide opportunities to test lab results in a real manufacturing environment once DKEM opens in Irvine.

The $1 million, to be distributed over eight years, follows an initial donation of $200,000 made over the past two years. Weili hopes the support will result in an increase in the number of qualified students, well trained to work in solar cell manufacturing.

“DKEM looks forward to the employment of your outstanding students in the near future,” wrote Weili Shi in a letter to the professor.

Lori Brandt

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