In September last year, SK Siltron, a subsidiary of South Korea’s SK Group, announced that it had decided to invest $450 million to acquire the SiC wafer division of American chemical company DuPont. Now, the acquisition was officially closed on the 29th of last month.

SK Group is bound to win the silicon wafer market

As early as 2017, SK Siltron was also called LG Siltron. It was originally a semiconductor company under the LG Group and was responsible for the production of silicon wafers, the basic material of semiconductor chips.

In early 2017, SK Group acquired a 51% stake in LG Siltron for $550 million. Before the acquisition, LG Siltron ranked fourth in the global 12-inch silicon wafer market. Later, LG Siltron officially changed its name to SK Siltron. At the same time, SK Siltron has also become the only compound semiconductor silicon fab in Korea.

(The picture comes from OFweek

Why choose to buy DuPont?

As we all know, in the economic and trade disputes between Japan and South Korea some time ago, Japan has imposed many export restrictions on South Korea, and related semiconductor raw materials such as fluoropolyimide, photoresist, and hydrogen fluoride have been blacklisted by Japan. “. If Japan continues to control wafer materials, it may have a greater impact on the Korean semiconductor industry.

Although SK Siltron can meet its own traditional silicon wafer production, it is still weak in SiC wafer manufacturing capability. Moreover, there are not many manufacturers that can mass-produce SiC wafers at present. There are only a few companies such as DuPont and Cree in the United States, and Showa Denko, Denso, and Sumitomo in Japan. Japan occupies the majority.

Amid concerns over Japan’s further imposition of semiconductor controls on South Korea, according to SK Siltron, the acquisition is aimed at responding to recent government policies to support companies in realizing material technology autonomy. At the same time, the acquisition of DuPont’s wafer business will also enable the company to gain more comprehensive wafer manufacturing capabilities and strengthen its voice in the silicon wafer market.

Third-generation semiconductor materials are gaining more and more attention

Previously, the third-generation semiconductor wafer materials led by SiC have been criticized for being “excessive” and not shy, but they have gradually heated up in the past two years.

According to data from market research institutions, the global SiC wafer market will grow rapidly from US$302 million in 2017 to US$1.399 billion in 2023. The compound annual growth rate of the market size from 2017 to 2023 is 29%, and the market potential huge.

As the so-called “you get what you pay for”, the advantages of the third-generation semiconductor wafer materials are also very obvious:

1. Under the same voltage/current level, the on-resistance is nearly one-thousandth of that of silicon devices, reducing the conduction loss of the device;

2. The switching frequency is 20 times that of silicon devices, reducing the volume of energy storage elements in the circuit, thereby reducing the volume of equipment and the consumption of precious metal materials;

3. It can work in a high temperature environment above 600 ℃, and has the advantage of anti-radiation, which can greatly improve the reliability of the system.

In terms of application scenarios, the third-generation semiconductor wafer materials have been favored and used by industries such as national defense, aviation, aerospace, oil exploration, and optical storage. A “hot item”. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand why SK Siltron wants to win the DuPont SiC wafer business.

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