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Shin-Etsu Invests In Photoresists

Electronic Materials: Japanese firm plans large facility in Taiwan

by Jean-François Tremblay
April 20, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 16

In what represents a substantial investment by the standards of the electronic materials sector, Shin-Etsu Chemical will spend $108 million to build a plant in Taiwan for photoresists used in semiconductor lithography.

The Japanese company is tight-lipped about the project. A spokesman says the facility will initially employ “several dozen people” and will not conduct basic R&D work on photoresists. But he declines to say what types of photoresists the plant will make or to name any customers it will aim to serve. The facility is scheduled to start operating in the fall of 2016 at an unspecified location in Taiwan.

The new factory is intended to enhance Shin-Etsu’s competitiveness in photoresists, a business the company muscled into in 1997 following an intense R&D effort.

Since then, according to Mark Thirsk, managing partner at the electronic materials research firm Linx Consulting, Shin-Etsu has built a good customer base, particularly in the Pacific Rim. “Shin-Etsu managed the transition from styrenic polymers used for 248-nm lithography to acrylic polymers for 193-nm lithography well,” Thirsk says. The firm has also developed leading-edge products for growing immersion lithography applications, he adds. Taiwanese chip makers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and United Microelectronics have pressed for local manufacturing by Japanese suppliers ever since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that distressed Japanese producers.

The semiconductor materials business is a good one these days for Japan’s chemical makers. JSR, Shin-Etsu, and Tokyo Ohka Kogyo all reported improved profitability in their electronic materials businesses during the fourth quarter of 2014.


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