SK Hynix has requested South Korean semiconductor equipment makers TES and KCTech conduct research into developing semiconductor cleaning equipment, TheElec has learned.
A person familiar with the matter said SK Hynix has been looking for a supplier to replace Mujin Electronics, which has previously supplied it with semiconductor cleaning equipment.
Prosecutors have jailed and indicted executives of Mujin for allegedly leaking SK Hynix’s semiconductor production and cleaning technology to a Chinese competitor.
Prior to the scandal, Mujin and SK Hynix has been collaborating for a long time. Some 350 to 400 cleaning equipment made by Mujin are used at SK Hynix’ production lines.
Samsung Electronics procures most of its cleaning equipment from subsidiary Semes. Mujin and SK Hynix’s relationship were similarly close, the person said.
But trouble between the pair started when Mujin sold a cleaning equipment, which it co-developed with SK Hynix, to Chinese DRAM manufacturer CXMT, they said.
After the incident, SK Hynix excluded Mujin as a co-development partner. Last year, it failed to find a replacement, which caused it to continue using Mujin-made equipment at its M16 factory.
Once TES and KCTech complete development of the new cleaning equipment, it is unlikely that SK Hynix will procure equipment from Mujin.
Mujin posted 421.2 billion won in sales last year. Besides manufacturing semiconductor cleaning equipment, it distributes memory and system semiconductors.