SK Hynix has been procuring blank masks from its own affiliate SK Enpulse since last year, TheElec has learned.
This is an important milestone for SK Hynix as it has mostly procured its blank masks from foreign companies.
SK Enpulse is the second company in South Korea to be supplying blank masks to chipmakers besides S&S Tech.
SK Enpulse has been focusing on manufacturing argon fluoride (Arf) and phase shift masks. The company began its blank mask business in 2018; parent company SKC, which wholly owns SK Enpulse, spent 43 billion won to complete the construction of a blank mask factory in 2019. However, the pandemic and development time delayed commercial production afterward.
The company from the start aimed to enter the high-end mask market such as phase shift masks, sources said.
Blank masks are used to make photomasks, which have semiconductor circuit patterns drawn on them to imprint on silicon wafers. Masks are made of high-purity quartz.
There are binary masks and phase shift masks, which have a phase inversion film on top of it to reduce the power of light emitted by lithography machines.
The latter masks are used in the production of advanced chips to draw finer circuit patterns.
SK Enpulse is also aiming to supply foundries and mask shops in Greater China. Its masks are being tested by SMIC and mask shops in China and Taiwan, sources said.