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Embargo raises CMP slurry prices

Posted: 05 Oct 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CMP? chemical mechanical polishing? slurry? cerium? China?

A China embargo on rare earth oxides is putting pressure on suppliers of cerium-based chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) slurry for shallow trench isoltation (STI) on ICs and glass disks for hard drives. The Information Network, a US-based market research company, said that the embargo is forcing suppliers to raise prices or change their formulations.

The price of cerium has soared to $50 per kilogram in September 2010, more than three times the price of $15 in April 2010 and more than five times the September 2009 price.

In July, China, which controls more than 90 percent of the rare earths market, drastically reduced export quotas for the second half of 2010 by 72 percent. Industry experts expect a "very tight" supply situation even after 2011.

Dr. Robert N. Castellano, president of The Information Network, said that while fumed silica or colloidal silica slurries may be used for STI CMP up to the 90nm level, ceria-based slurries are required for ICs below 90nm due to their high oxide-to-nitride selectivity.

The Information Network said Hitachi Chemical was the top STI slurry supplier for IC manufacturing in 2009, accounting for 55 percent of the $70-million market.

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