Synthetic quartz is a high-purity material that has become an essential material in electronics application due to its favorable chemical and physical properties. Oxygen, hydrogen, and silicon compounds such as silicon tetrachloride are used to produce synthetic quartz. Synthetic quartz offers various beneficial properties. These include resistance to acids, corrosion, high temperatures, wear, impact, compression, bending and infiltration. Thus, it is widely used in the electronics industry. High purity synthetic quartz possesses low volume of impurities, linear defects, and inclusions. Commercially, the hydrothermal process is adopted to produce synthetic quartz. Types of synthetic quartz include synthetic quartz crystal, synthetic quartz glass, etc.
Applications of synthetic quartz include electronics - majorly to semiconductor industry and solar industry. Synthetic quartz is also employed in optical fibers and photo-mask substrates for large scale integration (LSI) in semiconductor circuit and liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. Demand for large size and finer images is emerging with increasing demand for LCD panels. Synthetic quartz is the basic material in photo mask, which is used in etching of ultrafine circuit of display panel. This, in turn, leads to perfect precision required for high resolution and clarity of large-sized display panels. Photo-mask substrates made from synthetic quartz possess properties of excellent permeability and low thermal expansibility in the far ultraviolet range.
Synthetic quartz is also used in lithography tools due to its outstanding property of transparency to light in different wavelengths of visible spectrum and extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion. These lithography tools are used for transferring fine circuit pattern in a photo-mask on to a wafer during the production of semiconductor integrated circuits. Synthetic quartz used in lithography tools meets the requirement of finer circuits in order to form a high-resolution circuit pattern image on the surface of wafer.
Synthetic quartz is also prominently employed in optical components, which are used in wavelength lasers of microlithography projection systems. In this, optical components made of synthetic quartz are used to transmit high-energy ultraviolet laser radiation for producing large-scale integrated circuits on substrates. These components are highly resistant to laser, making them suitable for high-power or short-wavelength lasers. High purity synthetic quartz is also used to produce crucibles which pulls the single crystal silicon used to produce semiconductor devices and solar cells. High purity quartz is used for single crystal ingots from silicon metal in the solar industry.
Asia Pacific is the major region of the synthetic quartz market, as it has the leading manufacturers of semiconductor and consumer electronics. Asia Pacific is also the largest producer of semiconductor equipment and electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, and laptops. Japan, Taiwan, and China are the prominent countries of the semiconductor industry in Asia Pacific. Growth in the solar energy industry is expected to drive the demand for synthetic quartz in Asia Pacific. Solar and semiconductor application is also expected to grow at a faster rate in Asia Pacific. New fabrication plants are being constructed in China and are expected to come online by 2018. Thus, the market for synthetic quartz is anticipated to expand in Asia Pacific in the near future. North America is also a key region of the synthetic quartz market in terms of demand. The U.S. accounts for significant share of semiconductor and solar applications in North America.
Major players operating in the synthetic quartz market include Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd, Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd, Seiko Epson Corporation, Nihon Dempa Kogyo Co., Ltd, Asahi Glass Co., Ltd, CoorsTek, Inc and Kyocera Corporation.