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Tokyo Electron: constantly evolving technology for semiconductor and FPD manufacturing

Article - September 14, 2021

Tokyo Electron boasts a wide range of high-performing equipment for the production of cutting-edge semiconductor devices and flat panel displays, which continues to evolve in line with customer and industry needs.

With the emergence of new applications such as 5G/6G broadband, Big Data, IoT, cloud computing, advanced robotics and automation, the world is witnessing the dawn of a new era hailed as the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. The advent of these new applications has breathed new life into the semiconductor industry, pushing the market towards new innovations and developments.

In order to respond to such rapid technological changes, manufacturers involved in the semi-conductor industry must invest heavily in R&D, as is the case for Japanese company Tokyo Electron (TEL), which develops state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment for semiconductors and flat panel displays (FPDs) for customers around the world.

“The semiconductor industry is constantly changing. In fact, with each decade there is a new technological era such as the computer-centric era, the mobile-centric era, and data-centric era. More precisely, we are currently in the age of data, in which semiconductors are the core of any technological advancement. Each ‘new-age’ means new technologies, and therefore, more investment in R&D to keep ahead of the curve,” explains TEL president & CEO, Toshiki Kawai.

“Over the next 10 years, our industry market size is expected to double. Therefore, in order to lead the industry growth while remaining market leaders, our company will continue to develop cutting-edge technologies, utilizing our long expertise, and assuring the ‘Best Products and Best Technical Service’ with the best partners. In fact, we pride ourselves for being one of the only companies in the world, despite the difficulties, that can always ensure the best quality and the most advanced technologies.”

While Japan has lost its leading market share in terms of semiconductor manufacturing since the 1990s, its dominance in the field of manufacturing equipment, thanks to leading companies like TEL, will ensure it continues to play an essential role in the semiconductor supply chain, and hence in the development of Industry 4.0 technologies.

As these technologies are prompting the shift towards an entirely data-driven society, the use of semiconductors and FPDs is expanding like never before. This, in turn, has prompted much greater demand for TEL’s semiconductor production equipment, which serve as core technologies that support innovation and enable the evolution of a wide range of electronic devices.

“Cutting-edge semiconductor devices cannot be made without Tokyo Electron. Looking ahead to the future, we will invest 400 billion yen in development over the three years from FY20,” explains Mr. Kawai. “We strive to become the sole strategic partner for semiconductor-device makers, and in order to do so, it is important for Tokyo Electron to continue to pioneer world-leading technological innovation.” 

TEL boasts a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment that enables its customers to produce the cutting-edge semiconductor devices to the highest level of efficiency, quality and performance, with its product line-up covering four consecutive key processes: deposition, Coater/Developer, etch and the cleaning necessary for patterning, which is an important process for scaling on semiconductors.

“We believe that having product line-up covering four key processes necessary for patterning is our strength,” explains Mr. Kawai. “We are the only company in the world that has four consecutive key process in the patterning process, and our market share is No. 1 or No. 2.”

Meanwhile, in the field of FPDs, TEL’s FPD production equipment allow for the manufacturing of the latest FPDs for TVs, smartphones and other devices that require higher resolutions, ultra-low power consumption and various innovative interfaces; while its FPD Coater/Developer and Etch equipment have gained the confidence of customers worldwide for outstanding reliability and productivity.

Moving forward, TEL will continue to develop the most advanced technology as semiconductors and FPDs become ever-more complex, ensuring it continues to hold a leading global market share in key areas, for example in Coater/Developers and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography for the manufacture process of chips for nano and smaller than nano.

“TEL boasts about a 90% market share for Coater/Developer, while for EUV mass production it is 100%. We will aim to be the ‘Only 1’ and ‘No. 1’ by focusing on areas where our technology is predominantly utilized, areas where continuous technological innovation can be expected, and areas where market expansion is expected,” says Mr. Kawai, adding that the company will continue to channel the spirit of Japanese monozukuri (craftsmanship) to develop industry-leading technologies.

“Monozukuri is all about high-quality products built thoroughly and with precision. At Tokyo Electron, we are striving to adapt to the needs of our customers and their changing environments. We want to see the changes ahead of us and find engineering solutions before our partners even ask for them, while always ensuring the highest-quality product line.”

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