In recent years, in order to counteract Western sanctions, the Chinese Communist Party has invested heavily in the development of domestic chip manufacturing, resulting in a huge increase in domestic photoresist demand. Recently, Japan’s Shin-Etsu Chemical, the world’s leading photoresist supplier, began to limit the supply of KrF photoresist to China’s first-tier wafer fabs and has stopped supplying to small-scale Chinese wafer fabs.
According to the mainland set of micro network reports, Shin-Etsu Chemical has recently informed a number of larger first-line wafer fabs in mainland China, the company will limit the supply of KrF photoresist, and has stopped supplying to those smaller Chinese wafer fabs.
Currently more than 85% of the world’s semiconductor photoresist share is dominated by Japanese and U.S. companies, including Japan Synthetic Rubber (JSR), TOK, Sumitomo Chemical, Shin-Etsu Chemical and Dow Chemical. Among them, JSR is the world’s largest and most technologically advanced photoresist leader today, Intel, Samsung and TSMC are JSR’s core customers; while Shin-Etsu Chemical’s main entry point is KrF and ArF photoresist products, and is also developing EUV photoresist, and is the photoresist supplier for many wafer fabs in mainland China.
According to public information, photoresist is the key material for semiconductor lithography process, and its products can be divided into g-line, i-line, KrF, ArF and EUV photoresist according to exposure wavelength, and the latter three are high-end photoresists.
Since this year, not only TSMC, Samsung, Intel, UMC and other foundries in China are actively expanding production, but also SMIC, Hua Hong Hong Li, Guangzhou Yuexin and other local Chinese foundries are also making greater efforts to expand production and release capacity, resulting in a large increase in domestic demand for photoresists, with a particular shortage of high-end photoresists such as KrF and ArF, while China’s g-line and i-line photoresists for 6-inch wafers China’s self-sufficiency rate of g-line and i-line photoresists for 6-inch wafers is about 20%; the self-sufficiency rate of KrF photoresists for 8-inch wafers is less than 5%; ArF photoresists for 12-inch wafers are completely dependent on imports.
The industry insiders quoted by Jiwei.com said that in the future, a number of domestic Chinese wafer fabs may face the difficult situation of KrF photoresist shortage.