After SK Hynix became the first Korean company to successfully produce neon in China, it announced that it had increased the proportion of technology introduction to 40%. As a result, SK Hynix can obtain stable neon supply even under the unstable international situation, and can greatly reduce the procurement cost. SK Hynix plans to increase the proportion of neon production to 100% by 2024.
So far, South Korean semiconductor companies rely entirely on imports for their neon supply. In recent years, the international situation in major overseas production areas has been unstable, and neon prices have shown signs of substantial increase. We have cooperated with TEMC and POSCO to find ways to produce neon in China. In order to extract the thin neon in the air, a large ASU (Air Separate Unit) is required, and the initial investment cost is high. However, TEMC and POSCO agreed with SK Hynix’s desire to produce neon in China, joined the company and developed a technology to produce neon at low cost using existing equipment. Therefore, SK Hynix successfully realized localization through the evaluation and verification of domestic neon at the beginning of this year. After POSCO production, this Korean neon gas is supplied to SK Hynix with the highest priority after TEMC treatment.
Neon is the main material of excimer laser gas used in semiconductor exposure. Excimer laser gas generates excimer laser, excimer laser is ultraviolet light with very short wavelength, and excimer laser is used to carve fine circuits on the wafer. Although 95% of the excimer laser gas is neon, neon is a scarce resource, and its content in the air is only 0.00182%. SK Hynix first used domestic neon in semiconductor exposure process in South Korea in April this year, replacing 40% of the total usage with domestic neon. By 2024, all neon gas will be replaced by domestic ones.
In addition, SK Hynix will produce krypton (Kr)/xenon (Xe) for etching process in China before June next year, so as to minimize the risk of supply and demand of raw materials and supply resources needed for the development of advanced semiconductor technology.
Yoon Hong sung, vice president of raw material procurement of SK Hynix FAB, said: “This is an example of making a significant contribution to stabilizing supply and demand through cooperation with domestic partner companies, even when the international situation is unstable and the supply is unstable.” With cooperation, we plan to strengthen the supply network of semiconductor raw materials.
Post time: Nov-25-2022