Photoresist is the core material for the manufacture of integrated circuits and one of the key materials for micro-pattern processing in microelectronics. The quality and performance of photoresist have a crucial impact on the finished product and performance of the chip. It is one of the microelectronic chemicals with the highest technical threshold in the industrial chain of integrated circuit manufacturing and is also an important basic application in the current Electronic field. one of the materials.
Over the years, photoresist research and development has been included in my country’s high-tech plans and major scientific and technological projects. On September 28 this year, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the “Guiding Opinions on Expanding Investment in Strategic Emerging Industries to Cultivate and Strengthen New Growth Points and Growth Pole” It is clearly stated that it is necessary to speed up Achieve breakthroughs in the fields of photoresist, high-strength, high-conductivity, heat-resistant materials, and corrosion-resistant materials.
Since the United States has launched export restrictions in the semiconductor field one after another, my country’s semiconductor localization process has also attracted much attention. In fact, my country has made preliminary development in the three key processes of semiconductor design, packaging and testing, and manufacturing. Recently, there is good news in the field of photoresist, a key material for chip production, which is expected to bring a major breakthrough to my country’s 7nm chip production.
The formulations used in the early ink photosensitive products all depended on imports. Once there was a problem on the supply side, production would be passive. However, it is very difficult to start independent innovation, especially since the domestic start is late, and many technologies are monopolized by foreign countries. In realizing the breakthrough from “0 to 1”, Chinese enterprises faced major resistance. On the one hand, it came from the external environment. At that time, most of the leading companies in the industry purchased mature formulas from overseas and put them into production directly, so as to quickly seize the market; Not only did the research and development of key technologies encounter bottlenecks, but the products developed were repeatedly questioned by the market.
Fortunately, in recent years, the national ecological civilization construction has been continuously strengthened, which has brought development opportunities for the company. In the face of increasingly strict environmental protection inspections, domestic products have opened up market sales with excellent cost performance and gradually occupied a certain market share.
my country’s Ningbo Nanda Optoelectronics Materials Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Nanda Optoelectronics”) publicly announced that the company’s first ArF photoresist production line has been officially put into operation, and it is estimated that the annual sales will reach 1 billion yuan after the project is fully put into production. At present, NTU has sent samples of this ArF (193nm) photoresist to customers for testing, and more orders are expected to be received.
Photoresist is the core material for the production of integrated circuits, and it mainly plays the role of “transferring the designed image from the template to the appropriate position on the wafer surface”. Therefore, the quality and performance of the photoresist have an important impact on the final product and performance of the chip. You should know that although there are many photoresist manufacturers in my country, they mainly focus on low-end varieties such as G-line (436nm) and I-line (365nm), and high-end varieties such as ArF photoresist are almost 100% dependent on imports.
In 2019, the sales volume of local companies in my country’s photoresist market reached 7 billion yuan, accounting for about 10% of the global market share. However, if it is further divided into the high-end market, it will be found that 95% of the current global high-end photoresist manufacturing is concentrated in the hands of American and Japanese companies. Japanese companies such as Shin-Etsu Chemical and Tokyo Daily Chemical are particularly prominent, monopolizing nearly 90% of the high-end photoresist market.
Aware of my country’s shortcomings in the field of high-end semiconductor materials, in recent years, Chinese companies Jingrui, Shanghai Xinyang, and NTU Optoelectronics mentioned above are also actively researching, trying to break the monopoly of American and Japanese companies. Among them, as early as 2017, NTU put the development of the “ArF193nm photoresist project” on the agenda. In addition, Jingrui shares chose to borrow “external forces” to develop high-end photoresists.
In late September of this year, Jingrui shares released a news that “boiled” the industry. The company will buy from SK Hynix, a Korean semiconductor manufacturer, through an agent (Singtest Technology PTE.LTD.). Purchase an ASML lithography machine equipment. Industry insiders pointed out that the total value of this lithography machine is about 11.025 million US dollars (equivalent to about 75.23 million yuan), and it is a “second-hand goods”. According to the plan, Jingrui Co., Ltd. will use this tool for the production of high-end photoresist.
You know, ArF photoresist plays a key role in the production of chips in the 28nm to 7nm process. As of now, my country’s largest chip foundry, SMIC’s most advanced chip manufacturing process has only reached 14nm. Considering that the United States has promulgated new export regulations for chip accessories since mid-September, and the EUV lithography machine of the Dutch giant ASML has not arrived, the development of SMIC’s chip manufacturing process is also constrained to a certain extent.
Today, with years of independent research and development and practical accumulation, Chinese companies have gradually mastered the core technologies of electronic photosensitive chemicals such as resin synthesis, photosensitizer synthesis, formulation design and manufacturing process control, and have successively launched a variety of industry-leading PCB photosensitive inks The product can effectively improve the accuracy of electronic circuit graphics, reduce the rate of defective products, and at the same time can adapt to the trend of PCB technology to high density, high precision, and multi-layer development. And Chinese suppliers have made major breakthroughs in the field of photoresist, which means that SMIC has another layer of protection in semiconductor material suppliers.
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