Will the War in Ukraine Impact Noble Gas Supplies?

The following article appeared in this month’s Taiwan Business TOPICS, the magazine of the American Chamber of Commerce.

The impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on supply chains is hitting European countries the hardest, threatening to bring a winter of shortages and high energy prices. But the rest of the world – including Taiwan – is not immune to the effects of the war.

For Taiwan, the critical question is not the supply of oil and natural gas as with Europe, but rather the continued stable availability of inputs needed by the semiconductor industry, the pillar of Taiwan’s economic prosperity.

One such key resource for semiconductor fabs is neon. A byproduct of steel manufacturing, neon is commercially viable only when produced and processed in enormous quantities – a volume that only a limited number of factories in the world can achieve. Before the invasion, Ukraine was responsible for 70% of the total global supply, and it produced most of the ultra-pure neon needed to make the excimer lasers that etch features onto semiconductor silicon wafers.

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