[Insights] Analysis of the Global Photoresist Market in 2023

The sales revenue of the 2023 semiconductor photoresist market is expected to decline by 6-9% year-on-year. With continuous improvement in downstream customer inventory and gradual recovery of production capacity, the semiconductor industry is expected to experience a revival in 2024, and demand for photoresists is also expected to rebound.

TrendForce has released its latest report, ‘Analysis of the Global Photoresist Market in 2023,’ analyzing the market conditions and competitive landscape of the photoresist market. Excerpts from the report are as follows:

  1. Semiconductor Demand Expected to Rebound in 2024

With the ongoing improvement in downstream customer inventory, gradual recovery of production capacity utilization, and the maturation and surge in applications such as AI and smart automobiles, it is anticipated that the semiconductor industry will experience a revival in 2024.

The semiconductor photoresist market is also poised for a rebound, with market size returning to the historical peak of 2022 and further growing to surpass USD 2.8 billion by 2027.

  1. High-End Photoresists Show Significant Growth Potential as Chinese and Korean Suppliers Strive for Localization Breakthroughs

With the sustained growth in demand for advanced processes, high-end photoresists such as EUV, ArFi/ArF, will continue to grow as well. In particular, EUV photoresists are poised for substantial growth as the industry pursues chips with increased computational power and energy efficiency.

The quantity of advanced chips produced using EUV technology is expected to surge significantly, making EUV photoresists the segment with the greatest growth potential in the semiconductor photoresist market. It is projected that by 2025, EUV photoresists will account for a 10% share of the market.

Due to the high barriers to entry in photoresist production, currently, Japanese manufacturers dominate the global photoresist market with a supply proportion of approximately 80%.

Particularly in advanced photoresist areas such as EUV, ArFi/ArF, major Japanese companies like JSR, TOK, and Shin-Etsu Chemical hold absolute dominance, and incidents of supply disruptions from Japanese photoresist suppliers are not uncommon.

In response to the risk of supply disruptions, both China and South Korea have actively promoted the localization of photoresist production. In South Korea, companies like Dongjin Semichem and SK Materials have made significant progress in the field of advanced photoresists, achieving domestic production of certain ArFi and EUV photoresists.

In China, the domestic production rate of photoresists in the mid-to-low-end range has reached 30%, and efforts in research and development are continually strengthening in the field of ArF and EUV photoresists. Partial import substitution has been achieved for ArF photoresists, and it is anticipated that the domestic production rate will gradually increase in the future.

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(Photo credit: Unsplash)


[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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