450 companies from Korea and overseas to participate until the 3rd
Seeking hope for a market rebound amidst recession

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‘SEMICON Korea’, Korea’s biggest semiconductor equipment and material trade show, opened at COEX in Seoul on the 1st. Though the event was held during a recession where the demand for semiconductors is rapidly declining, next-generation semiconductor technologies to prepare for the rebound in the semiconductor market and open a sustainable future were presented. In particular, cases of cooperation in materials, parts, and equipment and strengthening supply chains led by Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix could be seen on site.

SK enpulse, an affiliate of the SK group, revealed their chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP) pads, which they succeeded in localizing. CMP pads are materials that are used to chemically and mechanically polish the surface of semiconductor wafers to make them flat. This is the first time that SK enpulse revealed their CMP pads to the public.

SK Hynix introduced SK enpulse’s high value-added CMP pads to their memory semiconductor processing. Using CMP pads in the memory semiconductor manufacturing process can increase the semiconductor integration. SK enpulse first applied high value-added polyurethane on their CMP pads to polish the thin films formed on wafers flat using SKC polyurethane manufacturing technology.

In addition to their polyurethane CMP pads, which SK enpulse had been focusing on previously, they plan to expand their portfolio of next-generation ultra-high purity CMP pads based on silica, ceria-nano materials, and metal materials. SK enpulse will also expand their area of business to include blank masks, which foreign materials companies had been monopolizing. An official of the company stated that, “We plan to respond to the new demands from Korean memory semiconductor companies with our blank masks which are used in the semiconductor exposure process.”

ENF Technology, a Korean company localizing hydrogen fluoride for semiconductors, showcased advanced materials introduced into the memory semiconductor manufacturing process led by Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. The company is a company that has succeeded in localizing hydrogen fluoride and the raw material, hydrofluoric acid, which is needed for the realization of semiconductor ultra-fine process circuits. UB Materials, a subsidiary of ENF Technology, revealed their amorphous carbon layer (ACL) slurry. An official of UB Materials said that, “After being incorporated as a subsidiary of ENF Technology, we began supplying SK Hynix with slurry since February of last year.” This slurry will be used for NAND flash applications. With Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix leading NAND flash technology with more than 200 layers, the company added that they are developing new materials for high stacking using nano materials.

Equipment company, such as SEMES, WONIK, JUSNG Engineering, and HANMI Semiconductor, also showed of their technological prowess. SEMES unveiled a large number of key equipment used over the entire semiconductor manufacturing process. They introduced clean and photo-related equipment which is used to remove impurities in the semiconductor exposure process to uniformly apply photoresist. An official of SEMES said that, “We will possess a diverse equipment portfolio covering the entire semiconductor manufacturing process and maximize our synergy with key semiconductor companies, including Samsung Electronics.”

Around 450 semiconductor companies from Korea and overseas are in attendance at SEMICON Korea, which will be held until the 3rd. Though the semiconductor market is in a recession, it has put forward prospects and hopes for a rebound. Inna Skvortsova, an analyst for SEMI, said that, “According to major market research companies, the semiconductor market will decline by an average of 7% this year, and the scale of equipment and investments are likely to decrease compared to 2021~2022,” but still evaluated that, “A rebound will begin by 2024, and will continue to maintain solid growth from a long-term perspective.” Hyundae Cho, the CEO of SEMICON Korea, predicted last year that opportunities for materials, parts, and equipment companies would open up as new investments were set for foundry companies, such as Samsung Electronics, Intel, and TSMC.

Reporter Jiwoong Kim jw0316@etnews.com