Dongjin Semichem, a South Korean manufacturer of photoresist (PR) materials, has successfully developed ‘extreme ultraviolet (EUV) negative PR’ and has commenced mass production to meet customer demand. This achievement comes hot on the heels of the company’s first EUV PR supply – ‘EUV Positive PR’ – to Samsung Electronics in December of the previous year.
Industry insiders disclosed that Dongjin Semichem has initiated the mass production of EUV negative PR, a critical component in the process of forming semiconductor circuit patterns. The photoresist technology can be divided into a positive variant, which eradicates highly exposed areas, and a negative one, which removes non-exposed regions. The production process typically employs both types, with positive PR lending itself to high-resolution applications and fine circuit pattern creation, while negative PR offers superior resistance to etching.
Reports suggest that Dongjin Semichem’s latest offering has begun to be integrated into certain processes at Samsung Electronics, particularly in the DRAM D1a process of Samsung Electronics. The D1a represents an advanced 14nm-class process involved in the production of DDR5 and LPDDR5. With the initiation of mass production, supplies are expected to expand shortly. Historically, the PR used in this process has been supplied by Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical.
Sumitomo Chemical had been the supplier of EUV PR for the pre-existing D1a process. However, Dongjin Semichem’s recent development of an EUV PR variant with enhanced properties has led to Samsung Electronics adopting their supplies. Amid the changing structure of the EUV PR market due to the Japanese sovereign wealth fund’s move to promote the acquisition of JSR, Dongjin Semichem’s move into mass production is highly significant.
The global EUV PR market has been predominantly occupied by Japanese corporations like JSR, Tokyo Oka Industrial (TOK), and Sumitomo Chemical. South Korean semiconductor firms have faced procurement difficulties since Japan imposed export control on semiconductor materials in 2019. In this context, Japan’s sovereign wealth fund, the Industrial Innovation Investment Corporation (JIC), declared last month its intention to tender an offer for shares in JSR, the world’s leading PR company, to fortify its semiconductor materials supply chain. As a result of JSR’s effective nationalization, firms like Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are keeping a close watch on shifts in the PR supply chain.
According to industry insider, “Dongjin Semichem is preparing to supply additional EUV PR for advanced processes, in addition to their current product.” This source added that the industry regards Dongjin Semichem’s active response to supply difficulties as commendable.
As the company expands its EUV PR supply, Dongjin Semichem’s sales are anticipated to grow. Last year, the company’s PR sales amounted to 230 billion won ($177 million), suggesting a promising trajectory for the firm.