[News] Global Photoresist Prices Are on the Rise, Posing Challenges for the Semiconductor Industry

Due to escalating raw material and labor expenses, The Elec reported that Dongwoo Fine-Chemistry, a subsidiary of Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical, plans to increase the prices of KrF and L-line photoresists for South Korean semiconductor companies. Price increases vary depending on the type of offering, ranging from around 10% to 20%.

As a pivotal material in semiconductor manufacturing, photoresist leverages photochemical reactions and undergoes processes like exposure and development through photolithography. This facilitates the transfer of intricate patterns from the reticle to the processing substrate. The KrF photoresist highlighted in this report represents a high-end variant, marking a significant competitive market for future players.

The photoresist market has been dominated by several major manufacturers such as Tokyo Ohka Kogyo, DuPont, JSR, Shin-Etsu Chemical, Sumitomo Chemical, and Dongjin Semichem. This market concentration is particularly pronounced in the market segment for semiconductor photoresist.

The photoresist industry demands high specialization, involving intricate formulations of resins, photosensitive acids, and additives—guarded as trade secrets by each company. The substantial technological barrier, coupled with the necessity for purity and performance from laboratory trials to market production, makes the entire product development process time-consuming and intricate. Additionally, meeting customer requirements and adaptation of the production line requires 1 to 3 years of validation, making it challenging for the customers to shift from current photoresist companies.

Faced with technological and customer-centric challenges, photoresist companies wield substantial negotiating power. The recent uptick in photoresist prices has prompted a noteworthy response from the South Korean semiconductor industry.

Insiders from the foundries commented, “In the face of rising photoresist prices, foundries have little choice but to pass on some of the costs to customers (fabless companies).” They further noted, “The price increase in Dongwoo Fine-Chemistry’s photoresist may contribute to a decline in the profitability of foundries and the fabless industry.”

Please note that this article cites information from The Elec

(Image: Dongwoo Fine-Chemistry)

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