Semiconductor Fab Materials Outlook

Parts of the global economy may be slower, but the overall semi market is improving; growth for fab materials modest through 2013.


By Dan Tracy
While segments of the global economy are slowing and uncertainty is once again on the rise, fundamental unit trends for semiconductor materials have improved in recent months and growth expectations for the fab materials market remain modest for 2012 and into 2013.

Three-month shipment data shows silicon shipments—from the wafer suppliers to the fabs—during the current cycle have improved steadily since bottoming out in the first quarter. In total, silicon shipments are expected to increase in the low single-digit range for this year, with the growth coming from higher 300mm wafer shipments.


300mm wafer growth shows that leading-edge device technology is driving the fab materials market. This is quite apparent in examining trends associated with materials consumed in photolithography. Finer geometries require advanced chemistries for 193 nm and immersion lithography, along with process steps needed for double patterning. 193 nm resist materials revenues were $514 million in 2011, an increase of 16 percent over 2010 sales, and forecasted to reach $550 million this year and top $600 million in 2013.

Segments of the photoresist ancillary chemical market have increased with the ramp in advanced fab processes. Sales of anti-reflective coatings have increased by double-digits over the past decade—except in 2009—to reach $493 million last year and are forecasted to reach $530 million this year. Specialty top coats and anti-pattern collapse chemistries are important and are growing material segments in lithographic processing.


The total wafer fab material is forecasted to hit $25 billion in 2012 and grow to almost $26.3 billion in 2013. Silicon wafers represent more than 40% of this market, with revenues expected to approach $11 billion next year. The photoresist and ancillary chemicals market should total just under $2.8 billion this year and reach $2.9 billion next year. Revenues for the other fab material segments are forecasted to grow by single-digit rates this year and next year, in line with wafer shipments. The overall outlook for the materials market is tied to semiconductor unit growth, so any improvement in electronics demand that drives higher chip consumption will spur growth in the silicon and other fab material markets.


The SEMI SMC 2012 (Strategic Materials Conference) will be held on October 23rd and 24th at the SEMI headquarters in San Jose, CA. The theme of the conference is “Entering a New Age of Materials and New Markets” and topics presented will cover developments in material sciences and applications that are occurring in semiconductors, LEDs, PV, printed electronics, and power devices. A copy of the current conference agenda, speakers, format and registration information can be found on SEMI’s website.

—Dan Tracy is senior director, SEMI Industry Research and Statistics.

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