South Korea’s SKC is out to commercialize indigenously-developed high-end mask blanks that are an essential part of producing semiconductors.
Mask blanks are base substrate plates of photomasks in which optical films of several compositions are deposited on the polished surface of low thermal expansion glass substrate. It’s a core technical aspect of EUV lithography technology.
SKC said on Mar. 26 that it will soon be mass producing the prototype of the masks from its plant in Cheonan of South Chungcheong Province. SKC invested up to KRW 43 billion into the Cheonan facility in aim to begin mass production this year. The final step remaining is to attain client approval. The site of the Cheonan plant is also where SKC hopes to create a semiconductor material cluster in aim to help raise the rate of locally-produced materials to up to 50% of the market.
The demand for mask blanks are growing by year. In 2025, the global demand is likely to reach KRW 1.3 trillion, up from KRW 800 billion in 2018, according to SKC figures.
Currently, around 95% of this demand is filled by two Japanese manufacturers who have a 98% dominance in the high-end mask market. Korean semiconductor companies therefore rely nearly all of its demand on imported products.
“We hope to eventually venture into other markets, such as mobility, eco-friendly products and panels so that more materials can be produced from home,” said one SKC official.
The Elec is South Korea’s No.1 tech news platform.