When Covid-19 first started shutting down the global economy last year, there was an unexpected impact on the semiconductor industry and the demand for electronic specialty gases. Historically, consumer and industrial investment on technology goods has reduced as a recession hits. However, in this recession, there was robust growth both technology investment, and in the global semiconductor industry and, as such, electronic specialty gases. The growth was driven by high technology spending supporting virtual connectivity, which has been essential during Covid-19.
The semiconductor industry consumed $3 billion of electronic specialty gases in 2020 vs. $2.5 billion in 2019. Key categories of electronic specialty gases used in the semiconductor industry include deposition gases, etch gases, rare gases, dopants, and reactive and clean gases, as illustrated below left.
The growth in technology spending was the culprit that led to a semiconductor shortage. The semiconductor shortage gained headlines earlier this year when its impact on the automotive industry led to multiple automotive plants having to shut down due to a limited supply of the chips that are used in automobiles. Ford recently announced that it now expects to lose about half of its planned second-quarter 2021 production due to the chip shortage. However, the semiconductor shortage impacts all varieties of devices that use chips, from refrigerators to high-end smart phones.
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