Samsung Electronics said on July 17 that it is testing etching gases supplied by multiple South Korean and non-South Korean companies in order to find out whether they can provide a satisfactory production yield. Likewise, SK Hynix is currently testing etching gases procured from South Korea, Taiwan and China to obtain an alternative to Japanese etching gases.
Although South Korean semiconductor and display manufacturers are trying to diversify their material supply sources amid the Japanese government’s export restrictions, their concerns still remain in that it is difficult to actually obtain a substitute suitable for mass production processes.
“When it comes to etching gases, we need to test their suitability for our products regardless of their purities, and the problem is that the test takes at least three months without any guarantee of success,” Samsung Electronics explained, adding, “The gas is diluted for each semiconductor manufacturing process and the related concentration and mixing ratio are Japanese companies’ trade secrets.” It continued to say, “They are supplying materials in a highly customized way and the South Korean semiconductor and display manufacturers’ dependence on Japanese suppliers is because the former as of now cannot catch up with the latter having more than 100 years of technological expertise and know-how.
“Domestic material development and supply source diversification have to be pursued regardless of Japan’s export restrictions,” said Park Jae-keun, head of the Korean Society of Semiconductor & Display Technology, continuing, “Samsung and SK will be able to lead the domestic development of industrial materials that have been dependent on Japanese suppliers.”