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The Projected Shortage for Silicon Wafer in 2018

According to TECHCET, a top advisory firm offering electronic materials information, silicon wafer supply for semiconductor fabrications will lag demand beginning next year. It was further stated that the situation would remain the same and industry players ought to brace for a shortage all through to 2021. All this is set to take place despite the huge investments made in China towards the sector.

Currently, silicon wafer suppliers SUMCO and Shin-Estu Handoti dominate the industry. In 2016, both of them took up almost two-thirds of the world market and the top-5 representing more than 92% of total revenues.

The silicon wafer sector is growing because of recent acquisitions and mergers, with the two most notable ones being the taking up of majority proprietorship of LG-Siltron by SK-holdings situated in Korea, and the attainment of the firm Sun-Edison-Semi by GlobalWafers situated in Taiwan.

According to Michel Walden, who is a senior technological analyst at TECHCET and the lead author of their Critical Materials Report, “Silicon Wafers Market & Supply-Chain,” over the last 5 years, there has been a drop in the standard selling price for a square inch of semiconductor-grade silicon by roughly a third and more than a half since the levels seen in 2007. Michel went further to state that even though there was a current crunch in the supply-chain, there has been greater stability and prices have even soared in certain cases. Experts agree that there is a need for such factors if there is to be long-term health in the wafer supplier’s scene.

It is also important to note that over the last few years, silicon suppliers unfortunately decommissioned around 25% of the peak capacity associated with 200mm wafers. Roughly, 65% of the remaining 200mm of the total demand is designated for epitaxial (epi) wafers together with a series of epi service companies that have embraced such opportunities and offer a wide range of layer configurations for their clients.

Currently, there is a rather high demand for silicon and most of its associated products are already on their way up the ladder after a significant number of years. However, even with that said, some experts still believe that there is a shortage crunch coming, particularly in the case of 200mm and 300mm bulk silicon. Most forecasts show that the shortage will also be along one as the industry continues to grow. There are still speculations going on. However, right now, it is more of a wait and see game as industry players try to charter the way forward.

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