Tokyo green lights etching gas exports to SK Hynix

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Tokyo green lights etching gas exports to SK Hynix

Japan approved the shipment of hydrogen fluoride to SK Hynix, a month after it allowed a first shipment to be exported.

Hydrogen fluoride, also called etching gas, is one of three key materials Tokyo restricted exports of to Korea starting in early June, all important for making semiconductors and displays. Photoresists and fluorinated polyimide are the other two.

“Japan approved the shipment of hydrogen fluoride in gas form on Sept. 30,” said a spokesperson for SK Hynix. “We haven’t received the material yet. We’re not sure when it will be shipped but expect it will be soon.”

Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee during a National Assembly hearing on Wednesday told lawmakers that two companies had recently received approval for hydrogen fluoride.

Samsung Electronics did not confirm whether it was the second company.

The size of the second shipment hasn’t been confirmed, but an industry insider says it could give SK Hynix a two month’s supply for semiconductor manufacturing.

The SK Hynix spokesperson said the company had not run out of hydrogen fluoride.

Starting Tuesday, SK Hynix has used liquid hydrogen fluoride made by a local company in some of its chip factories. The chipmaker spent the past few weeks trying to partner with domestic distributors of liquid hydrogen fluoride and managed to find one, it said.

Making a semiconductor requires hydrogen fluoride in both gas and liquid forms.

Before partnering with the domestic company, SK Hynix almost fully relied on Japanese imports.

“We mostly got our supplies from Japan, but we plan to continue our partnership with domestic suppliers,” said the spokesperson.

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