Samsung has scrapped its plan to add more suppliers of photoresist, a key ingredient in the production of advanced 3D NAND flash memory chips.
The company had contacted a minimum of four potential new suppliers, all from Japan including the world’s largest PR maker Tokyo Ohka Kogyo, to supply the material, sources said. But these companies couldn't meet Samsung’s requirements, they added.
South Korea’s Dongjin Semichem, which had supplied the tech giant with the material for close to ten years so far, will continue to be the sole supplier.
Samsung had attempted to reduce its reliance on this one company for years.
It had contacted Japanese companies multiple times in the past to seek suppliers but these companies failed to meet the thickness requirements, the sources said.
PR is used in the photolithography process during wafer fabrication.
Fabricating 3D NAND flash is about stacking unlike reducing the circuit width of other chips.
So KrF lasers are used more than the more advanced ArF. But the KrF materials must be thick.
Samsung had collaborated with Dongjin Semichem to develop this thick PR for KrF even before 2013 when it started manufacturing its first 3D NAND flash.
The tech giant opened its entire process to its South Korean chemical supplier for deep collaboration and succeeded in developing PR that is over 30% thicker than the ones to prior KrF.
Last year, Dongjin Semichem posted a revenue of 1.16 trillion won and an operating profit of 131.3 billion won.
It saw its revenue jump 23.8% from the prior year thanks to high demand for electronics materials including PR.