NEW YORK (AP) -- Chemical giant DuPont said Thursday it will invest $120 million to increase production of a component used in solar cells as the company anticipates rapid growth in the photovoltaic market in the next several years.

Wilmington, Del.-based company expects that overall sales of its family of products into the photovoltaic industry will exceed $1 billion by 2012.

This most recent expansion increases the company's production capacity for its Tedlar films, which serve as the critical backsheet component for solar photovoltaic modules in all-weather conditions.

The investment increases capacity by more than 50 percent for monomer and resin used in producing Tedlar films.

The company said construction has begun for new monomer and resin facilities at its sites in Louisville, Ky., and Fayetteville, N.C., respectively, both of which are scheduled to start up in mid-2010.

"Our capacity expansions are critical steps in growing the Tedlar business and maintaining our market leadership in backsheets for solar panels," said David Miller, group vice president of DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies.

Shares of DuPont rose 8 cents to $31.97 in morning trading.