Japan "sanctions" will be upgraded! Korean manufacturers are eager to find new sources[electronic equipment China Trend]

15 Jul 2019

On July 9th, according to foreign media reports, Japan’s “sanctions” against South Korea may be further upgraded after Japan announced its restrictions on exporting electronic equipment China semiconductor-related raw materials to South Korea earlier this month. At present, Korean chip makers are actively looking for solutions, and some Japanese suppliers are also trying to evade export controls imposed by the Japanese government, but they are "powerless." As Japan’s “sanctions” against South Korea continue, it is expected that the downstream industry chain will be greatly affected. In the Japanese-Korean confrontation, some Chinese manufacturers are expected to benefit from it.

Japan restricts the export of semiconductor materials

Japan announced on July 1 that it will restrict the export of high-purity hydrogen fluoride required for "cleaning" in semiconductor manufacturing to Korea, the sensitizer "resist" coated on semiconductor substrates, and used in the electronic equipment China manufacture of televisions and smart phones. The fluorinated polyimide of the mobile phone display panel, these three materials are the key materials required for the manufacturing process of the display panel and the semiconductor chip. The restraining order was implemented on July 4.

This also means that from July 4th, Japanese related material manufacturers will need to pass the Japanese government's export review and export license when exporting the above three materials to Korea. But even if it is finally approved, the new electronic equipment China regulations will inevitably extend the export process of Japanese manufacturers to Korea. According to the Korean media assessment, the process of applying for a product export license separately takes about 90 days.

So how much impact will this have on Korean companies? Let's take a closer look at the specific role of these three restricted materials and how strong Japan is in the field.

(1) Fluorinated polyimide

Polyimide has high temperature resistance, high insulation, high stability, excellent mechanical properties, etc. It can be widely used in flexible displays, flat panel displays (FPD), flexible solar cells, semiconductor devices and other fields. Fluorinated polyimide is a kind of polyimide. There are two main applications in the field of FPD: one is fluorinated polyimide film for flexible screen substrates, and the other is colorless polyimide. Amines are necessary materials for folding OLED cover sheets.

As far as the product is concerned, the flexible screen with fixed curved surface can choose conventional polyimide or colorless polyimide on the electronic equipment China substrate and cover selection. At present, the cover of most fixed curved screens is made of glass material; The flexible screen can select conventional polyimide or colorless polyimide on the substrate selection, and fluorinated polyimide must be used in the selection of the cover. At present, Samsung and LG's OLED panel material selection needs further clarification.

According to relevant industry information, more than 90% of the world's fluorinated polyimides come from Japanese suppliers, such as Japan's Shin-Etsu, JSR and Sumitomo Chemical.

According to South Korean industrial data, Japanese fluorinated polyimides accounted for 93.7% of the materials imported by Korean companies from January to May this year. Obviously, after Japan adopts export control measures, the purchase cycle of Korean panel makers to obtain fluorinated polyimide from Japanese suppliers will be lengthened, and production efficiency will be affected. This restriction is tantamount to “bottoming”.

(2) Photoresist

Photoresist is a key material for selective etching in semiconductor lithography processes. As the line width of integrated circuits becomes narrower, the exposure wavelength of photoresist is gradually shortened, from ultraviolet broad spectrum to g line (436 nm), i line (365 nm), KrF (248 nm), ArF (193 nm), F2 (157 nm). The direction of the transfer. The g-line is available for 6-inch wafers, the i-line and KrF for 8-inch wafers, and the ArF for 12-inch wafer processing.

According to SEMI, the global semiconductor materials market reached US$51.9 billion in 2018, including $32.2 billion in wafer fabrication electronic equipment China materials and $19.7 billion in packaging materials. In the total cost of wafer fabrication, photoresist accounts for 6% to 7%, corresponding to approximately $2 billion in 2018.

From the perspective of market competition, g and i-line photoresist technologies have been basically mastered by domestic and foreign manufacturers. KrF and ArF are mainly monopolized by Japanese and American companies, including Japanese JSR, Japanese TOK, American Rohm and Haas, and Japanese Shin-Etsu. The market share of the top five manufacturers including chemistry and electronic equipment China Fuji Electronics of Japan reached 87%. Among them, the total market share of Japanese companies is as high as 72%, occupying an absolute dominant position, and forming a monopoly in the high-end KrF and ArF fields.

(3) Hydrogen fluoride

Hydrogen fluoride (HF) is also known as hydrofluoric acid. Electronic grade hydrofluoric acid is one of the key auxiliary materials in the integrated circuit industry, used in wafer surface cleaning, chip cleaning and corrosion during integrated electronic equipment China circuit manufacturing. The data shows that in the semiconductor process, there are more than 50 links that require the use of high-purity hydrogen fluoride, which is important.

According to Fuji economic forecast data, global high-purity hydrofluoric acid sales in 2011 were 112,000 tons, with sales of about 1.4 billion yuan.

From the application field, 70% of high-purity hydrofluoric acid is used for cleaning and 30% is used for etching. In the global high-purity hydrofluoric acid market, Japanese companies are in an absolute dominant position. The three Japanese electronic equipment China companies, Stella Chemifa, Daikin and Morita Chemical, have a combined market share of over 93%, and their market discourse rights are evident.

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