ASM International N.V. has announced its intention to invest around US$100 million in its manufacturing and innovation center in Dongtan, South Korea, by 2025. Particularly, ASM and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea (‘MOTIE’) signed a memorandum of understanding for this undertaking.
This investment will expand ASM’s R&D and product-development infrastructure to meet the needs of technology advances, as well as adding more manufacturing capacity. To illustrate, Korea is a crucial location for ASM, where some of its most advanced applications came to being. For one, ASM’s ALD gap-fill applications is a recent and successful example.
These applications enable next-generation advanced logic and memory devices, which are expected to see increased usage in coming years.
“Rapid growth is expected until the end of the decade for semiconductors, and – despite the recent slowing down in the industry – ASM continues to invest for growth,” says Benjamin Loh, CEO of ASM. “This expansion will not only serve our key Korean customers, but all our customers worldwide will benefit from the enabling technologies we develop in Korea.”
Meanwhile, Lee Chang-yang, Korea’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, says, “The intended investment by ASM is expected to contribute greatly to increasing high-tech development in our country, securing a stable semiconductor supply chain, and increasing exports.”
Prior to signing the MoU, Minister Lee said that with semiconductor devices getting smaller and smaller, the increased investment in Korea by ASM – with its world-leading ALD technology – would present good cause for the country to ‘exert synergy’ with domestic semiconductor companies. Minister Lee also expressed his willingness to cooperate closely with ASM as part of the Korean government’s policy to foster and support the semiconductor industry.
Dongtan has been instrumental in ASM’s growth, with the facility delivering advanced R&D and technology for customers in Korea and for global customers. Most importantly, Korea is also the global center for ASM’s PEALD business. Technologies developed by ASM’s local R&D team have been at the heart of breakthrough innovations in the semiconductor industry. Particularly, these are the ALD quad chamber module (QCM) architecture, the TENZATM ALD for ultra-high aspect ratio (>100:1) gap-fill, and high-quality PEALD oxides and nitrides for spacers, liners, and other patterning applications.
The expansion of ASM’s Dongtan facility is also necessary to create more space for the company’s fast-growing number of employees in Korea. In addition, it reflects the increasing revenue contribution from the Korean market expected over the next few years.
The intended investment will deliver multiple benefits to the local market. Of course, the expansion will create new job opportunities, for the direct and indirect employment of skilled personnel in engineering, R&D, and manufacturing. In addition to contributing to training and workforce development in Korea, the investment will also benefit local supplier partnerships.
ASM has been operating in Korea since 1989 and established ASM Korea Limited in 1995. Since then, Korea has grown into one of ASM’s key global technology development and manufacturing sites with more than 450 employees.
The MoU has been signed but is conditional on support and assistance from the Korean government, in terms of grants and the speedy approval of all necessary permits.
This intended expansion follows the unveiling last year of ASM’s state-of-the-art Singapore manufacturing facility and operations hub. Moreover, this is another step in the company’s growth as it prepares to meet growing global customer demand for advanced semiconductors.