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Silicon wafer prices increase again

Posted: 10 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mark LaPedus?

Prices for silicon wafers have quietly jumped twice in the past six months amid capacity and material shortages in the marketplace, according to analysts.

Leading silicon wafer suppliers, including MEMC, Siltronic, Sumco and Shin-Etsu Handotai, have reportedly raised their respective prices on at least two occasions according to analysts.

Suppliers of silicon wafers first increased their prices by 5-to-6 percent in December of last year, said Rich Winegarner, president of Sage Concepts Inc., a market research firm. Last month, suppliers quietly raised their prices another 5-to-6 percent due to perceived polysilicon material shortages and lack of 200mm capacity, he added.

"People are worried about not getting enough material," he said. "Besides that, 200mm silicon wafer capacity is tight, because no one wants to invest in 200mm production." Silicon wafer makers are scrambling to expand their 300mm capacities amid strong demand in the market. Average selling price for a 200mm and 300mm silicon wafer is about $45 and $200 right now, respectively, Winegarner added.

Material shortages are also a major concern. Prices for polysilicon are expected to see further increases this year and next amid ongoing shortages for the materials due to huge demand from the solar industry. Ongoing shortages of polysilicon is expected to restrict the growth rates in the worldwide solar photovoltaic market to just 10 percent in 2006, according to Solarbuzz LLC.

In total, the silicon wafer industry is expected to grow 5-to-6 percent this year terms of area shipments. In terms of revenues, the silicon wafer market will grow 12-to-15 percent in 2006 over 2005, according to Sage Concepts.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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