SK Hynix Looking to Receive High Selectivity Phosphoric Acid from LTCAM

Feb 18, 2020

SK Hynix is looking to diversify supply of “high selectivity phosphoric acid” that is a key chemical of 3D NAND flash memory. It is close to adopting high selectivity phosphoric acid from a new partner as the development process with its new partner has made a significant process.
According to the industry, SK Hynix is currently working with a South Korean semiconductor process chemical provider called LTCAM and is pushing to commercialize high selectivity phosphoric acid.
High selectivity phosphoric acid is a chemical that is used for 3D NAND flash memory. 3D NAND flash memory is a flash memory that has raised degree of integration of a semiconductor by vertically stacking circuits. High selectivity phosphoric acid removes specific films out of tens of thin films stacked into a 3D NAND flash memory.
3D NAND flash memory is becoming a widely-used flash memory as it can increase storage. As a result, there is also an increase in demands for high selectivity phosphoric acid. However, the technical barrier of this chemical seems to be very high for most of companies.
LTCAM, which has produced its own high selectivity phosphoric acid, is a semiconductor process chemical provider that was established in 2004 and it mainly manufactures wet chemicals such as cleaning solution and etching solution used for semiconductor processes.

SK Hynix’s semiconductor cleanroom (Reference: SK Hynix) <SK Hynix’s semiconductor cleanroom (Reference: SK Hynix)>

LTCAM signed a contract with SK Materials in October of 2018 in order to develop and commercialize chemicals with high functionality. By joining hands with SK Materials, it was able to speed up the development process of high selectivity phosphoric acid and raise its high selectivity phosphoric acid’s quality to a level where the acid can be applied to semiconductor production lines.
It is heard that SK Hynix’s evaluation of LTCAM’s high selectivity phosphoric acid has made a significant process and there is a high chance that SK Hynix will adopt LTCAM’s high selectivity phosphoric acid. However, it is heard that SK Hynix has yet to decide on when and how much of high selectivity phosphoric acid will be used and for which product.
When LTCAM’s high selectivity phosphoric acid is commercialize, it is expected to bring changes to the market structure. According to the industry, South Korea’s high selectivity phosphoric acid market is led by SoulBrain. SoulBrain, which produces materials for semiconductor and display processes, is basically the sole supplier of high selectivity phosphoric acid for Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. However, when LTCAM commercializes its product, SoulBrain will have to at least compete against LTCAM to be SK Hynix’s supplier. In addition, it is expected that South Korea’s semiconductor materials market will become even more stable as manufacturers grow. It is heard that the market for high selectivity phosphoric acid is currently worth $169 million (200 billion KRW) annually. However, the market is expected to change due to the development of high selectivity phosphoric acid by LTCAM and diversification of supply of high selectivity phosphoric acid by SK Hynix.
Staff Reporter Yun, Geonil | benyun@etnews.com

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