Semiconductor wet chemicals fall short of 2008 levels

The 2013 market for semiconductor wet chemicals (acids, bases and solvents) totaled $1.03B, up six percent over 2012, according to a new report from Techcet Group, “Wet Chemicals for Semiconductor Device Processing 2014, A Techcet Group Critical Materials Report.” The 2014 outlook is for eight percent additional growth to $1.11B. The semiconductor wet chemicals market is expected to grow to $1.36B by 2018, according to Techcet’s forecast. Current growth in wet chemicals revenue tracks the increase in wafer starts and further boosted by price increases driven by higher raw materials costs.

As <32nm nodes move toward volume production, there is a continuing trend toward the use of more dilute chemistries and smaller chemical volumes per process step. Overall process cost reduction and a smaller environmental footprint combine to drive this trend. The continuing shrinkage of device features is also driving the reinvestigation of alternative process technologies such as supercritical CO2 all plasma processing, and UV-ozone cleaning.

The global market is distributed among seven major players with five percent share or greater, led by BASF and Kanto in the first tier. There are, however, vast differences in market leadership by region, with BASF leading in Europe, Taiwan and China, and Kanto leading in Singapore and Japan. KMG continues to expand its US market share dominance with its acquisition of OM Group’s Ultra Pure Chemicals business in June, 2013.

The semiconductor wet chemical industry is vulnerable to several situations playing out in the general chemical industry as well as international politics. Semiconductor-grade nitric acid supplies were disrupted by a May 2012 explosion at El Dorado Chemical Company, and are not expected to fully recover until mid-2015. US shale oil production is providing some price escala- tion relief from Middle East petroleum supplies, providing relief in solvents and polyethylene products. New mining activity for phosphor and fluorspar around the world is starting to reduce dependence on China, providing some relief for hydrofluoric and phosphoric acid supplies.

In addition to market analysis, technical trends, critical supply chain issues and EH&S activities, the report includes profiles and updates for thirteen major chemical suppliers to the global semiconductor industry.

Techcet Group, LLC specializes in technical trend analysis and market analysis for the semiconductor, silicon, PV and related electronics industries. The company has been responsible for producing the International Sematech Critical Material Reports since 2001.

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