SEOUL -- SK materials, a major special gas producer in South Korea, and its Japanese partner, Showa Denko, proposed the idea of making their joint entry into the U.S. semiconductor material market, pointing to growing demands caused by a U.S. government campaign to strengthen domestic capabilities in manufacturing high-tech technologies.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding at the head office of Showa Denko on June 29 to consider entering North America with semiconductor materials. Showa Denko has fluorine-based special gas source technology and a global sales network.
SK materials, an SK Group unit that manufactures special gas used in semiconductor, liquid crystal display and solar cell manufacturing processes, established a joint venture with Showa Denco in Yeongju, some 160 kilometers (99 miles) southeast of Seoul, to localize hydrogen fluoride, also known as etching gas, which is used to wash away foreign substances in the process of piling up silicon wafers.
Since Japan strengthened regulations on exports of photoresists, fluorine polyimide and etching gas in July 2019, South Korean firms have tried hard to localize them. Photoresists are the light-sensitive material to form a patterned coating on a surface.
Through their successful cooperation, SK materials said the two companies would try to quickly capture various business opportunities in North America and seek greater growth and find an optimal business model and investment economy for semiconductor special gas materials.
"Based on the influence of SK Materials and Showa Denko in the semiconductor material industry and favorable market prospects, we are happy to have an opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on the direction of our North American business through this business agreement," SK materials CEO Lee Young-wook said in a statement on June 29.
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