LG Display has finished tests on domestically produced high-purity hydrogen fluoride and begun to apply domestic production to its process. The company has already added the new Korean products to its production lines for flagship panels such as organic light emitting diodes (OLED) panels.
Samsung Display is also expected to finish testing of domestically produced high-purity hydrogen fluoride this month. Given that no critical problems have been found to date, the local product is likely to be used for volume production immediately after the final test. Previously, Samsung Display used hydrogen fluoride from Japanese and other Korean suppliers.
Unlike semiconductor production lines that use nanometer-level processes, display panel production does not require ultra-high-purity hydrogen fluoride (where purity can be up to 99.9999999999%). Hydrogen fluoride is mainly used for wet etching to remove defective layers and cleaning to remove organic substances and oxides on the surfaces of display panels.
LG Display said in August that “dependence on Japanese hydrogen fluoride will be considerably lowered but securing supplies of ultra-high-purity hydrogen fluoride is still a problem.”
As Roskill reported back in July, Japan has removed South Korea from a list of countries that receive preferential trade treatment when importing HF etching gas. High purity HF is a key chemical used by the electronics industry in the manufacture of semi-conductors and printed circuit boards as a result of its ability to attack silica (SiO2). It is employed in cleaning agents and etchants and is thus an important feedstock in the production of devices such as TVs, computers, memory chips, tablets, mobile phones and critical electronic systems in transport and infrastructure. Although it has been reported that Korean Imports will not be blocked, the time-delays associated with approval requests and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Japanese-Korean trade relations likely has the potential to cause some disruption. Whilst HF is manufactured in large volumes globally and is the starting point for essentially the entire fluorochemicals industry, the number of producers of electronic-grade HF and its derivatives is much more limited with Japan being one of the most important suppliers. As such, the task of changing suppliers at short notice is challenging.
Roskill’s Fluorspar: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook report breaks down the complex fluorine supply chain considerations into clear forecasts with price forecasts based on analysis of both supply and demand.