ASML and Samsung to invest KRW1 trillion to establish a joint semiconductor R&D center

Daniel Chiang, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: South Korean Government

During the state visit of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to the Netherlands, leaders including Lee Jae-yong, Chairman of Samsung Electronics, and Chey Tae-won, Chairman of SK Group, visited the headquarters of ASML and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for various semiconductor collaborations. The MOU includes the establishment of a research and development center, research on hydrogen reuse technology, and talent cultivation.

According to reports from South Korean media Hankyung and Chosun Biz, Samsung and ASML recently signed an MOU at the ASML headquarters in the Netherlands. Starting in 2024, they will invest KRW1 trillion (US$758 million) to establish and jointly operate a new-generation semiconductor R&D center. Park Chun-sul, Chief of the Economic Office at the South Korean Presidential Office, stated that the government will provide comprehensive support from the establishment to the operation of the research center.

SK Hynix will collaborate with ASML on the R&D of hydrogen reuse technology for application in extreme ultraviolet (EUV) equipment. Since EUV lithography equipment requires using a carbon dioxide laser to strike liquid tin droplets to generate a light source, hydrogen is needed to prevent tin oxidation. If the related technology is successfully commercialized, each EUV device could reduce costs by approximately KRW16.5 billion per year.

The two countries also signed an MOU to jointly cultivate future semiconductor talents. South Korea, including institutions like the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Chung-Ang University, and companies like Samsung and SK Hynix, will participate. The Netherlands will have institutions such as Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Imec in Belgium, ASML, ASM, and NXP participating. The goal is to cultivate about 500 advanced professionals, including master's and doctoral graduates.

President Yoon Suk-yeol expressed that the South Korean government is committed to strengthening direct communication between the two nations and will provide all necessary support to ensure the success of the collaborative project. The aim is to fortify the South Korean and Dutch semiconductor alliance. During the visit, Yoon Suk-yeol, Lee Jae-yong, and Chey Tae-won also toured ASML's 2-nanometer semiconductor new-generation EUV equipment production line, marking ASML's first public disclosure of its cleanroom to external parties.

Minister Lee Jong-ho of the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) in South Korea highlighted that the collaboration between South Korea and the Netherlands in the semiconductor field has evolved into a strategic alliance. He anticipates that this partnership will be advantageous for South Korean manufacturers in obtaining EUV equipment from ASML.