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Neon shortage coming

The current Neon demand is growing in “stealth mode” – hidden from the layman’s view because of significant factors only analysts fully versed in lithography, OLED/FPD and semiconductor device trends would catch. The traditional method of using historical data to predict future Neon demand will grossly underestimate future usage.

“Those who are basing their thinking on projections of historical Neon growth are in for a big surprise,” said TECHCET’s President/CEO, Lita Shon-Roy.   “Even with the recovery of the Neon supply chain, Neon conservation actions, and new sources in China, we predict that Neon demand will grow faster than Neon supply,” she added.

The largest and most rapidly growing Neon demand drivers are Lasik, OLED/FPD (displays) and DUV lithography. However, Neon gas consumed by DUV excimer laser gases is growing at a faster pace and represents more than 90% of world’s Neon consumption.

Semiconductor lithographic use of Neon is increasing more rapidly than expected for several reasons including the delay of EUVL while demand for finer line width patterning is increasing. In addition, new consumer related markets drive increased usage of legacy device processing. Each increase in the number of lithographic steps increases the need for more DUV lithography tools, and drives up the volume demand for Neon. This is true for V-NAND process flows, as well as DRAM and Logic devices dependent on multi-patterning.

Currently, the installed base of DUV lithography tools is ~ 4,400. In contrast, there have only been a dozen or so EUVL tools shipped through the end of 2015.

“The continued growth of DUV tools will push up demand for NEON beyond which supply can support,” cautioned Shon-Roy.

More details can be found from TECHCET’s latest Critical Materials Report on NEON Supply & Demand. Information will also be presented at the CMC Conference, scheduled for May 5-6, in Hillsboro, Oregon – this is the open forum portion of the Critical Materials Council meetings. For more information go to For more information on the CMC Conference please go to

CMC Fabs is a membership based group that actively works to identify issues surrounding the supply, availability, and accessibility of semiconductor process materials, current and emerging, “Critical Materials.” CMC Fabs is managed by TECHCET CA LLC, a firm focused on Process Materials Supply Chains, Electronic Materials Technology Trends, and Materials Market Analysis for the Semiconductor, Display, Solar/PV, and LED Industries. The Company has been responsible for producing the SEMATECH Critical Material Reports since 2000.

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