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SK hynix successfully localizes neon gas

Posted October. 06, 2022 07:51,   

Updated October. 06, 2022 07:51


SK hynix’s effort to localize neon gas, a key ingredient for semiconductor production, bore fruit for the first time in Korea. Until now, companies have been entirely relying on the import of neon gas. However, gas prices were going stratospheric due to the recent war between Russia and Ukraine.

According to the South Korean company on Wednesday, it first succeeded the gas production in April this year, and 40 percent of its product manufacturing was based on localized neon gas. SK hynix announced it has become a stable supply source of neon and achieved extensive cost savings. It plans to accomplish 100 percent gas localization by 2024.

Neon is a crucial ingredient for a type of gas used for semiconductor photolithography and exists only by 0.00182 percent in the air. Until now, Korea’s semiconductor producers have depended entirely on imports to secure the material – mainly relying on Ukraine (23.0%) and Russia (5.3%) as the supply sources. Since the war began, the price of neon jumped by a whopping 10-fold, and supply disruptions have continued.

SK hynix has been exploring ways to produce the gas in partnership with TEMC, a Korean semiconductor gas manufacturer, and POSCO. Extracting neon from the air requires a significant investment as it requires a large-scale air separation unit. The three companies developed a technology to enable neon production while saving money by leveraging existing equipment. The Korean-made neon is now being produced at POSCO, refined at TEMC, and supplied to SK hynix as a priority.

Do-Young Kwak now@donga.com