The only polishing liquid in China, Anji Technology paves the way for China’s “core”

The only polishing liquid in China, Anji Technology paves the way for China’s “core”

It is not easy to make a “pile of sand” into a chip necessary for modern life. It requires dozens of industries, thousands of processes, and strict control layer by layer.

The cumbersome processes and extremely difficult technical requirements have made chips a pain in my country’s technology industry for many years, and many fields in the industrial chain have also been monopolized by overseas giants. Anji Technology (688019) is seeking breakthroughs in the upstream field of the chip manufacturing industry chain.

As a key semiconductor material manufacturer in China, Anji Technology has been deeply involved in the field of chemical mechanical polishing liquid since its establishment in 2004, and successfully broke the monopoly of chemical mechanical polishing liquid in the field of integrated circuits by overseas enterprises, becoming the only domestic supplier of chemical mechanical polishing liquid. business.

Chemical mechanical polishing liquid is a kind of grinding liquid. In the chip polishing process, it can help to remove micron/nanoscale materials on the surface and make the wafer surface highly flat, so that the next process can be carried out.

Even if the foreign monopoly is broken, Anji Technology still has a big gap with overseas giants: the global chemical mechanical polishing liquid market share does not exceed 3%, and advanced process node materials are still vacant. After receiving the blessing of the capital market, can Anji Technology go further and allow “Made in China” to participate in the international industrial chain more deeply? Can it continue to break through and grab more market share from overseas giants?

The only domestic wafer manufacturing necessary

The chip manufacturing process can be roughly divided into three steps: top-level design, wafer manufacturing, and packaging and testing. Among them, the wafer manufacturing process is particularly complex. The main processes of wafer fabrication include: lithography, etching, ion implantation, thin film growth, and chemical mechanical polishing (CMP).

Chemical mechanical polishing is a key process to achieve wafer surface planarization during wafer fabrication. Different from the traditional pure mechanical or pure chemical polishing method, the CMP process realizes the removal of different materials at the micro/nano scale on the wafer surface through the combination of surface chemistry and mechanical grinding, so as to achieve a high degree of planarization of the wafer surface. Allow the next step of the photolithography process to proceed.

The only polishing liquid in China, Anji Technology paves the way for China’s “core”

(The principle of chemical mechanical polishing, picture source: Anji Technology Prospectus)

According to the requirements of different processes and technology nodes, each wafer will undergo several or even dozens of chemical mechanical polishing processes during the production process.

As the only supplier of chemical mechanical polishing fluids in my country, Anji Technology’s performance in recent years has been growing steadily: from 2016 to 2018, its revenue increased from 196 million yuan to 247 million yuan; 1-9 in 2019 The monthly revenue was 205 million yuan, a year-on-year increase of 16.7%, and the net profit was 46.2759 million yuan, a year-on-year increase of 46.29%.

The only polishing liquid in China, Anji Technology paves the way for China’s “core”

Chemical mechanical polishing fluid is the core business of Anji Technology. In 2018, the revenue of this business was 205 million yuan, accounting for 82.78% of the total revenue.

Behind the growth in performance, technological breakthroughs have also helped Anji Technology to gain more customer recognition. At present, the technical nodes of copper and copper barrier series chemical mechanical polishing solutions produced by Anji Technology cover 130-28nm chip process, mainly used in domestic 8 Inch and 12-inch mainstream wafer production lines, and have established stable cooperation with global or domestic leading integrated circuit manufacturers such as SMIC, TSMC, YMTC, China Resources Microelectronics, Hua Hong Grace, etc.

These five companies also bring more than 80% of its revenue to Anji Technology, of which SMIC alone contributes more than 50% of its revenue.

In addition, Anji Technology’s photoresist remover solution business has formed a certain scale and continues to expand. Its revenue has increased from 19.41 million yuan in 2016 to 42.05 million yuan in 2018, becoming the second largest company of Anji Technology. source of revenue.

Photoresist removers are also a must-have product in wafer production. In the photolithography process, photoresist is used to transfer the pattern on the reticle to the substrate, forming a geometric pattern that exactly corresponds to the reticle. However, at the end of patterning, before proceeding to the next process step, the photoresist residue needs to be completely removed. Photoresist removers are high-end wet chemicals used to remove photoresist residues.

Although the overall performance is still in a state of growth, but the low growth rate, it is not difficult to see that Anji Technology has not been easy.

In terms of revenue split, the revenue of Anji Technology’s chemical mechanical polishing solution in 2018 was basically the same as that in 2017, and the revenue of copper and copper barrier series chemical mechanical polishing solutions as its core products also fluctuated. 174 million yuan in 2018 dropped to 164 million yuan in 2018. The growth of Anji Technology’s business is dependent on the development of the photoresist remover business.

It seems that Anji Technology’s chemical mechanical polishing fluid business has reached its limit.

Large-scale expansion of production and comprehensive replacement

In fact, whether it is the market or its own technology improvement, Anji Technology still has a lot of room for improvement.

In recent years, the market size of chemical mechanical polishing liquid has been growing steadily. According to the information disclosed by Cabot Microelectronics, the world’s largest chemical mechanical polishing liquid supplier, the global chemical mechanical polishing liquid market size in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was 11.11. 0 billion, 1.20 billion and 1.27 billion US dollars, the compound annual growth rate of the global CMP polishing materials market is expected to be 6% from 2017 to 2020.

In the downstream market, as my country has become the world’s largest semiconductor consumer market, mainland China is undertaking the third transfer of production capacity in the international semiconductor industry. Overseas “veteran” chip manufacturers and domestic semiconductor “new stars” have added to the domestic market. According to data from West China Securities, from 2017 to 2019, it is estimated that 62 new wafer (integrated circuit) processing lines will be built around the world, of which the number of new ones in China reaches 26.

It can be corroborated by the statistics of the China Semiconductor Association. As of December 2018, there are 15 12-inch integrated circuit manufacturing lines that have been built or are being put into production in China; 16 12-inch integrated circuit manufacturing lines are under construction or planning; There are 24 8-inch integrated circuit manufacturing production lines that have been built or are being put into production; in the next few years, my country will build 10 new 8-inch integrated circuit manufacturing production lines. It is estimated that by 2020, my country’s integrated circuit manufacturing capacity will reach 2.2 million piece/month.

At the same time, the sales scale of China’s integrated circuit industry is also growing rapidly. In 2018, the sales of China’s integrated circuit industry reached 653.2 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 20.7%. When a series of domestic production lines such as SMIC and YMTC are completed and put into production, it is expected In 2020, the scale of the domestic integrated circuit industry will reach 982.54 billion yuan.

Not only that, technological breakthroughs in the integrated circuit industry will also lead to an increase in the amount of CMP polishing materials. Taking the logic chip process below 14nm as an example, the required CMP process will reach more than 20 steps, and the CMP polishing step in the logic chip process of 7nm and below. Maybe even up to 30 steps. Similarly, the technological change of memory chips from 2D NAND to 3D NAND will almost double the number of CMP polishing steps.

With the continuous expansion of the downstream integrated circuit manufacturing market, Anji Technology is expected to benefit as the only supplier of domestic chemical mechanical polishing fluids, as well as suppliers of SMIC and YMTC. Photoresist removers, which are also used as materials for integrated circuit production, will also rise.

However, if only relying on the dividends brought by the incremental downstream market, even if the revenue will increase, the market share does not seem to have changed much. It is still “surviving in the cracks” of industry giants. The mechanical polishing liquid will still be controlled by overseas giants, and only “snatching” industry giants in the oligopolistic market will bring huge benefits.

In this technology-based industry, product strength is the “hard currency”, and only with continuous technological breakthroughs can we get a share of the “grabbing” with oligarchs. Anji Technology seems to be aware of this, and its annual R&D investment accounts for more than 20%.

Continuous high-intensity R&D investment is being realized: At present, Anji Technology’s 14nm technology node products have entered the stage of customer certification, and 10-7nm technology node products are under development.

Although, from the perspective of the production capacity of each process node, the production capacity of integrated circuits above 28nm still accounted for about 90% of the total global production capacity in 2018, but below 28nm, or even below 14nm, has already become a battleground for integrated circuit manufacturers. SMIC, a major customer of Anji Technology, is also making every effort to develop 14nm and below processes.

Anji Technology, which has entered the stage of customer certification, chose to expand the production capacity of chemical mechanical polishing fluids at this time, so as to follow the footsteps of major customers and further expand the localization substitution effect. Among the funds raised in this listing, 1.2% 100 million yuan will be used for the expansion project of CMP polishing liquid production line. When the production line expansion is completed, Anji Technology will add 6,100 tons of copper-related chemical mechanical polishing liquids that meet the requirements of technology nodes below 28nm.

It is worth mentioning that the CMP polishing liquid production line expansion project will also bring 9,000 tons of metal tungsten chemical mechanical polishing liquid production capacity to Anji Technology. Unlike copper-related chemical mechanical polishing liquids, metal tungsten chemical mechanical polishing liquids are mainly used for storage. In the production of chips, copper-related chemical mechanical polishing liquids are more used in logic chips.

The metal tungsten chemical mechanical polishing liquid produced by Anji Technology can meet the requirements of 3D NAND and DRAM memory chips. When the capacity expansion is completed, the metal tungsten chemical mechanical polishing liquid will be expected to be highlighted from the “other” in the business division of Anji Technology and become a new driving force for performance growth.

Next, when the R&D investment is successfully “realized” and the production capacity construction is fully achieved, Anji Technology will expand the coverage of polishing liquids for different processes and types of chip production, and comprehensively accelerate localized substitution. As the world’s semiconductor production capacity shifts to China, Anji Technology, which has a geographical advantage, is expected to become a world-class supplier of semiconductor materials.

Written by Qiao Haoran

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