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Comm, automotive industries grow biz for chemicals in electronics

Focus on smaller nodes and enhanced lithography techniques will fuel consumption per wafer, finds Frost & Sullivan's Visionary Science research team


Technological advancements in semiconductor fabrication and packaging technologies have compelled manufacturers of process and production chemicals to keep pace with altered product formulations and new products. The impending adoption of 450mm wafers will particularly drive the market for materials such as gases and photomasks.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the market earned revenues of $28.06 billion in 2014 and estimates this to reach $38.07 billion in 2021. China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries will be key demand hotspots for semiconductor and printed circuit board (pcb) materials in the forecast period.

Multi-patterning, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and smaller nodes

Similarly, due to the demand from end-use industries such as communication and automotive, the chemicals markets for semiconductor fabrication, packaging materials and pcb will grow. Multi-patterning, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and smaller nodes are the key factors that will stoke the market for semiconductor gases, photoresists and ancillaries, as well as photomasks. For instance, EUV sources utilize more than 200W of power, which is likely to destabilize the photomask pellicles. Therefore, it is imperative to develop new high-performance products capable of maintaining stability under high-power EUVs.

“The adoption of smaller nodes such as 22nm, 14nm, 10nm and 7nm are vital for the uptake of technologically advanced products,” said Frost & Sullivan Visionary Science Research Analyst Siddharth Anand Sainath. “For instance, smaller nodes require higher volume of gases and wet chemicals for etching owing to design complexities. Asia-Pacific presents significant growth opportunities for semiconductor and pcb materials owing to the clusters of production units.”

Materials in increasingly price-sensitive end-markets

While there has been a spate of innovations, the high costs of semiconductor fabrication and packaging materials in increasingly price-sensitive end-markets has pegged the market back to some extent. Another crucial issue that manufacturers need to resolve is the environmental impact of the use of acids and gases in semiconductor fabrication and packaging. These issues are forcing fabs to ration the use of chemicals, restraining volumes. In the gas segment, fabs are looking to reduce the consumption of global warming gases such as sulphur hexafluoride.

To address high costs and environmental impact, fabs are looking to optimize the overall process and consumption of chemicals and materials. As they are continuously innovating to reduce raw material usage, they will eventually find efficient alternatives or recycle the product to regenerate materials.

“Another prominent trend in the market is acquisitions and partnerships between global companies due to the high initial investments required in this market,” noted Sainath. “Further, diversification of product portfolio to offer a wide array of semiconductor and pcb materials is the key to attracting more customers and multiplying revenue streams.”