Sumitomo Chemical Bankrolls Investments in Materials

Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. has announced investments amounting to 30 to 50 billion yen (US$263 to US$438 million) to boost semiconductor-related materials. The company’s semiconductor materials are based on organic synthesis technologies accumulated through its fine chemicals business.

Part of the company efforts is to double the production of high-purity cleaning chemicals at its Ehime plant in Japan. It also intends to enhance its sales bases in China in order to meet demand from local semiconductor manufacturers.

It will also endeavor to develop markets for power semiconductors, aiming to gain first-mover advantage by developing new markets.

Photoresist SUMIRESIST (Source: Sumitomo Chemical)

Builds up Infrastructure

Sumitomo Chemical completed a new plant for advanced photoresists in fiscal 2019, and started operating it in fiscal 2020. Today, the company is looking for another location for a new plant for photoresists for argon fluoride (ArF) immersion.

In terms of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photoresists, the company has an advantage in material design, which is based on its unique concept. To further strengthen its development and evaluation systems, Sumitomo Chemical will complete a new building on its Osaka plant in fiscal 2022. It plans to introduce state-of-the-art cleanrooms and equipment in the new site.

Dongwoo Finechem Co., Ltd., a group company of Sumitomo Chemical based in South Korea, also offers semiconductor materials. The subsidiary has a track record in high-purity chemicals, such as sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide solution, which are necessary for cleaning in microfabrication processes.

Power Semiconductor Play

Sumitomo Chemical will also work on compound semiconductor materials, including gallium nitride (GaN), which is drawing attention as a new material for next-generation power semiconductors. According to the company, it might be the only one in the industry to possess manufacturing technologies for both substrates and epi-wafers. Utilizing this advantage, it aims to develop large-diameter gallium nitride (GaN) substrates and to improve productivity in order to reduce costs.

Compound semiconductor materials (Source: Sumitomo Chemical)

GaN is used as a material for high-frequency devices for 5G base stations, while gallium arsenide (GaAs) epi-wafers are used as materials for smartphones and sensors.

GaN-on-GaN power semiconductors contribute to energy saving, thanks to its low loss. They also help reduce size and weight. They are expected to be used in power supplies for data centers, electric vehicles, wireless charging systems and switching. Demand is expected to further increase amid advancements in self-driving technology.

Sumitomo Chemical will also develop applications through collaboration with other firms.

The company anticipates that the semiconductor market will continue to grow mainly due to further increases in the speed and capacity of data transfer. It expects sales revenue from its entire semiconductor business to increase 50 percent by mid-2020s compared with fiscal 2020. It forecasts that it will reach the limit of its production capacity around 2025. Given this scenario, it considers further enhancing its structure in anticipation of long-term demand.