Air Liquide has committed to accelerating the development and manufacturing of new advanced materials in Asia with a $200m investment designed to support next generation electronics applications.
The investment will go towards the construction of two large modular production sites in Taiwan and Korea. To be built near ‘strategic customers’, the facilities aim to boost innovation through close collaboration and speed to solution.
Through its affiliate company Air Liquide Advanced Materials, the company has focused on supporting manufacturing of advanced technology nodes that enable applications in artificial intelligence (AI), automotive, cloud computing and other semiconductor technologies.
“We are pleased to further develop our collaboration with key semiconductor leaders, with whom we have been partners for more than 20 years,” said Michael J. Graff, Executive Vice President, Air Liquide Group.
“This investment also testifies of the confidence our electronics customers have in the long-term market trend, and in Air Liquide’s capacity to provide innovative and tailor-made solutions in a cost effective and sustainable manner.”
Equipped with ten Advanced Materials centres around the world, Air Liquide Advanced Materials uses its enScribe product line of etch materials to drive sustainability by reducing the overall environmental footprint of semiconductor manufacturing process.
Integral to everything from processors found inside smartphones or computers to memory chips and image sensors, semiconductor chips or integrated circuits are spreading to new areas.
An example is the automotive industry, where integrated circuits are replacing mechanical or fluidic systems for acceleration and braking control and enabling smart anti-collision systems.
In addition to supplying high-purity carrier gases for the production of semiconductors, Air Liquide provides specialty and advanced electronics materials (precursor molecules) to produce the chips.
Through its Electronics business line, Air Liquide generated $2.5bn in revenue in 2022 across three key markets: semiconductors, photovoltaics and flat panel displays.
“Buoyed by the digital revolution, Electronics remains a dynamic growth driver which will contribute to Air Liquide’s strategic plan ADVANCE,” added Graff.
Semiconductor manufacturing in APAC
Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and mainland China accounted for 72% of global semiconductor production in 2020, with locations such as the US and Japan focused on the more profitable design segment, according to S&P Global.
US legislation such as the CHIPs Act, which aims to boost domestic and regional semiconductors manufacturing, threatened to rebalance global semiconductors manufacturing away from APAC economies.
An announcement last December by Taiwan Semiconducting Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) revealed that the company would triple investment in manufacturing capacity in the US, signalling the changing geographic dynamics in the sector.
The landscape could be set to shift once again with the emergence of new policies favouring economic nationalism and/or supply chain security in Japan, South Korea and India which encourage local manufacturing development, in turn reducing reliance on supply from Taiwan.
“In the three- to five-year outlook, policy factors are likely fundamentally to alter the sector landscape, with increased investment and new business opportunities outside APAC for semiconductor manufacturing and greater competition within the region,” stated S&P Global.