AI chip boom to drive sales surge for TOK's ArF and EUV photoresists

Chiang, Jen-Chieh, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Tokyo Ohka Kogyo

Japan's semiconductor chemicals vendor Tokyo Ohka Kogyo (TOK) has stated that the increasing demand for AI chips will drive up sales and market shares of its extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and ArF photoresists.

According to a report by Dempa Shimbun Daily and information from the company's official website, TOK's primary business, which contributes over half of its revenue, revolves around electronic functional materials. This includes semiconductor photoresists, high-density packaging materials, and LCD materials.

TOK has set a target to achieve a 15% increase in overall sales of advanced process materials like ArF and EUV photoresists in 2024. Notably, sales of EUV photoresists alone are projected to surge by 35%.

Meanwhile, sales of KrF photoresists, mature process materials, and semiconductor backend process materials are also expected to increase. The company will strive to expand shipments of high-value-added products, such as packaging photoresists for backend processing.

According to a 2023 report from research firm Fuji Chimera, as cited on TOK's official website, the company secured a global market share of 26.1% for photoresists overall in 2022. This included 16.2% for ArF photoresists, 36.6% for KrF photoresists, and 22.8% for g-line and i-line photoresists.

Another TOK business involves high-purity chemical pharmaceuticals, with some directly linked to semiconductors, such as auxiliary drugs for semiconductor photoresists. The company will also manage to boost product quality and ensure stable supply to meet the growing demand for semiconductors.

Accordingly, despite TOK experiencing a decline in business performance in 2023 due to the semiconductor market downturn, the company is poised for a rebound starting in the second half of 2024. Revenue and profit for the year are expected to grow by double digits.

TOK has also revised its long-term forecast, projecting annual revenue to increase significantly to JPY350 billion (US$2.312 billion) by 2030, more than double the 2023 revenue of JPY162.2 billion.

TOK will build a new photoresist plant at its Koriyama complex in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan to increase production capacity. Upon completion, the plant will be the largest of its kind in Japan, with an estimated investment exceeding JPY 200 billion. Construction of the facility is slated to kick off in the second half of 2024, with commercial production of mainly KrF and EUV photoresists to start in the latter half of 2026.

In 2023, TOK disclosed plans for a new high-purity chemical pharmaceutical plant in Kikuchi City, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, aiming to meet the increased demand for semiconductor materials following TSMC's establishment of chip manufacturing facilities in Kumamoto. The new plant will require an investment of JPY 13 billion and is slated to commence operations in the first half of 2025. It will supply high-purity chemical pharmaceuticals for semiconductors to western Japan, including Kyushu, complementing the existing factory in Aso City, Kumamoto Prefecture.

Additionally, TOK revealed that its subsidiary TOKAM has secured land for a new factory in Pyeongtaek City, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. Construction is scheduled to start in 2027, with production to begin in 2028, targeting semiconductor customers in South Korea.