TMG suppliers increase capacity to serve LED market

As LED demand continues to grow, materials suppliers are keeping pace by adding more capacity for vital chemicals such as Trimethyl Gallium.

Dow Electronic Materials has unveiled a multi-phase plan to expand its production capacity for Trimethyl Gallium (TMG), a key chemical used in the fabrication of LEDs.

Dow’s expansion plan includes adding significant TMG capacity at its plant in North Andover, MA to address short-term demand as quickly as possible. In addition, Dow Electronic Materials will build a new manufacturing plant in Korea, which is expected to begin operating in early 2011, to create capacity for long-term demand. Total additional TMG capacity resulting from the multi-phase plan is expected to be 60 metric tons per year.

In March 2010, SAFC Hitech, a division of the Sigma-Aldrich Group, announced plans to invest $2 million to expand production of TMG at its UK manufacturing plant in Bromborough, Wirral (the former Epichem) – see SAFC Hitech supports HB-LED manufacturing boom with TMG expansion.

Metalorganic precursors such as TMG are used in the metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) process to grow layers of different semiconductor materials. The wafer containing the resulting layer structure is then processed to form devices such as LEDs.

“Demand for TMG today is being driven by explosive growth in LED backlighting of LCD TVs with the potential of future growth of LEDs in the general lighting market,” said James Fahey, global general manager, Growth Technologies for Dow Electronic Materials. “The LED market is growing rapidly, particularly in Korea, Taiwan and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region where there is a large display manufacturing base and semiconductor manufacturers are building and converting capacity to manufacture LEDs.”

Likewise, SAFC Hitech cited the “growing demand for [TMG] in the production of high-brightness LEDs for applications such as backlighting in flat-panel television sets and energy-efficient lighting.”

The new Dow plant in Korea will be located in Cheonan, approximately 85 km south of Seoul. Dow Electronic Materials expects to expand the site in the future to manufacture other metalorganic materials in addition to TMG.

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