SAN JOSE, Calif. South Korean chemicals giant DC Chemical Co. Ltd. has acquired a majority stake in Sodiff Advanced Materials Co. Ltd. The move could propel Korea into the polysilicon materials market for use in making silicon wafers and solar cells, according to sources.
DC Chemical has become the largest shareholder in Sodiff and is now part of its management team, according to a report from Korea Investment Securities Co. Ltd., an investment banking firm.
South Korea’s Sodiff is a suppler of chemicals for various markets. The company is also reportedly starting up a monosilane materials plant, which could be used to make polysilicon products, according to the report. Polysilicon, a material that consists of multiple small crystals, is used to make silicon wafers, solar cells and other products.
Korea has little or no presence in the polysilicon market and must rely on foreign suppliers for these critical products, which are in short supply. Some believe that Korea companies wants to provide more and more critical materials domestically since they buy so much from Japan and others.
Korea needs a source of supply for good reason: the nation not only requires this material for silicon wafer production, but it is also trying to enter the solar industry. Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., for one, is said to be developing its own solar panel line. In doing so, the company would compete against Energy Conversion, Evergreen Solar, Sanyo, Sharp, SunPower and others, sources said.
Polysilicon has been a hot topic in recent times. Prices for polysilicon materials earlier this year jumped by approximately 25 percent amid ongoing and severe shortages in the marketplace. The troubling supply and pricing trends for these materials could hamper the overall growth rates in the semiconductor and solar cell industries, according to analysts.
Leading polycrystalline or polysilicon vendors ASiMI, Hemlock, MEMC, Mitsubishi Materials and Wacker cannot keep up with huge OEM demand and are reportedly sold out of these materials for the next two to three years, according to industry sources.