After it emerged earlier last year that the argon market was in surplus, as December (2013) dawned it seemed that there was still little sign of a recovery in demand.

That’s according to the recent issue of The Gas Review (TGR), which explains that as the market for silicon wafers is in slump, so too is the demand for argon.

TGR explored the financial closings of two major players in the market and noted that sales of the semiconductor silicon wafer business had declined. Further, it cited figures from SEMI that silicon wafer shipments in third quarter 2013 were also marginally down in the region, as well as for the period from January to September.

The reason for this slump is thought to be a structural issue involving the sluggishness in sales of memory. This, in turn, is attributed to a decrease in demand for PC’s.

While the demand for semiconductors for use with smartphones and tablet computers is increasing, the performance per wafer is increasing (due to the finer finishing of devices formed on wafers) and the volume of chips produced has not been growing as previously forecasted. This is another factor in the decrease in demand for argon.

All of which leaves TGR questioning whether there is any recovery in sight for the demand for argon – the gas of the highest value in the air separation process.