Camarillo-based Siemens Solar Industries, a major solar energy concern, has opened a new facility for mass production of crystal solar cells.
Siemens Solar said the "clean room," part of a $3-million plant improvement, is a first in the industry and will produce 30,000 to 40,000 silicon wafers a day.
Clean rooms are designed to provide a factory environment free of airborne contaminants.
Factory employees are now required to wear special shoes, sterile garb and coverings for their hair and faces.
While some other solar energy companies may have used quasi-clean-room facilities, nothing in the industry has been done to copy clean-room semiconductor standards on such a large scale, industry analysts say.
Siemens' 2,500-square-foot clean room was built at the company's headquarters.
Siemens Solar, owned by Siemens AG of Germany, says it is the largest supplier of solar cells and modules, providing 20% of the world market.
Siemens Solar employs 350 workers, 300 of them in Camarillo.