Liquide Electronics has cited ‘serious tensions in the supply chain’
with respect to silane (monosilane, SiH4), forcing the company to raise
prices immediately for silane by 20 percent as contracts allow. The
move comes closely behind Air Liquide’s announcement on the 6th of
March, 2008 that it plans to triple silane production.
Christophe Fontaine, Group Vice President of Electronics for Air Liquide, commented, “Silane’s booming demand is fueled by the market growth of flat panel display and photovoltaic (solar cell) applications. In spite of new capacity investment underway, in the short term, the existing silane worldwide merchant capacity will be challenged by high demand, leading to some serious tensions in the supply chain.”
Surging demand across the photovoltaics, flat panel display and other semiconductor industries is behind the problem, coupled to conservative expansion projects by major producers that typically take several years before increased supplies are available. Air Liquide’s expansion plans in Japan will come on stream in 2010.
According to photovoltaic materials supplier REC, the silane gas market would reach more than 3,000 metric tons in 2008.
Air Liquide is the largest dedicated merchant silane supplier in the world with an estimated 35 percent market share. Many suppliers of silane only sell silane as a bye-product business.