The process of manufacturing semiconductors is best described as a chemical reaction. A number of specialty chemicals are used in the process. Most of them are pretty nasty. And one of them just became a problem.
3M Cuts Output of PFAS Used in Chip Production
3M has suspended production in Belgium of the polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) used in the chipmaking process, which is considered hazardous to human health.
The materials supplier halted production of PFAS at a plant near the Belgian village of Zwijndrecht on Mar. 8. The company notified clients including Samsung, SK Hynix, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., and Intel, according to Business Korea*.*
3M aims to restart PFAS–related manufacturing and continues to make non–PFAS related products at Zwijndrecht, a company spokesman said in an email to EE Times.
Full story here:
Incredibly, this one plant in Belgium makes 80% of the world’s supply of the PFAs used in chip making. Or it did. Perhaps someone else will be able to spin up production and avert catastrophe? There’s likely good money to be made filling in this gap.
It’s very unlikely the semiconductor manufacturers will find an alternative to the missing PFAs in the short term. Expect more chip shortages in the coming months, with the accompanying ripples in auto making, consumer electronics, and defense that we’re all become familiar with. What chips are produced will command higher prices.
disclosure: 3M shareholder