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Germany Urges Taiwan to Help Ease Auto Chip Shortage Affecting Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Others

25th January 2021
"Automakers around the world are closing assembly lines due to an issue in the supply of semiconductors."

Germany has asked Taiwan to convince Taiwanese manufacturers to help ease the shortage of semiconductor chips in the automotive industry, which is hindering its emerging economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Germany Urges Taiwan to Help Ease Auto Chip Shortage
 

Automakers around the world are closing assembly lines due to an issue in the supply of semiconductors, which in some cases have been worsened by the behavior of the former Trump administration against key Chinese chip factories.

The shortages affected Volkswagen, Ford Motor, Subaru, Toyota Motor, Nissan Motor, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and other car manufacturers.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier asked his Taiwanese counterpart Wang Mei-hua to discuss the issue in negotiations with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC). TW, the largest contract chipmaker in the world and one of Germany's leading suppliers.

"I would be pleased if you could take on this matter and underline the importance of additional semiconductor capacities for the German automotive industry to TSMC," Altmaier wrote.
 

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Compiled by : Rahul Shrestha Rahul Shrestha

Samsung Announces Semiconductor Paradigm Shift with New Material Discovery

6th July 2020
"Samsung Electronics announced on July 6 that researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) discovered a new material, called amorphous boron nitride (a-BN)"

Samsung Electronics announced on July 6 that researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) discovered a new material, called amorphous boron nitride (a-BN), in collaboration with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and the University of Cambridge.

According to Samsung, SAIT has recently been working on the research and development of two-dimensional (2D) materials – crystalline materials with a single layer of atoms. Specifically, the institute has been working on the research and development of graphene and has achieved groundbreaking research outcomes in this area such as the development of a new graphene transistor as well as a novel method of producing large-area, single-crystal wafer-scale graphene. In addition to researching and developing graphene, SAIT has been working to accelerate the material’s commercialization.

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The newly discovered material, called amorphous boron nitride (a-BN), consists of boron and nitrogen atoms with an amorphous molecule structure. While amorphous boron nitride is derived from white graphene, which includes boron and nitrogen atoms arranged in a hexagonal structure, the molecular structure of a-BN, in fact, makes it uniquely distinctive from white graphene.

To enhance the compatibility of graphene with silicon-based semiconductor processes, wafer-scale graphene growth on semiconductor substrates should be implemented at a temperature lower than 400 degrees Celsius,” said Shin Hyeon-jin, a graphene project leader and principal researcher at SAIT. “We are also continuously working to expand the applications of graphene beyond semiconductors.”

Amorphous boron nitride has a best-in-class ultra-low dielectric constant of 1.78 with strong electrical and mechanical properties and can be used as an interconnect isolation material to minimize electrical interference. It was also demonstrated that the material can be grown on a wafer-scale at a low temperature of just 400 degrees Celsius. Thus, amorphous boron nitride is expected to be widely applied to semiconductors such as DRAM and NAND solutions, and especially in next-generation memory solutions for large-scale servers.

“Recently, interest in 2D materials and the new materials derived from them has been increasing. However, there are still many challenges in applying the materials to existing semiconductor processes,” said Park Seong-jun, vice president and head of inorganic material lab, SAIT. “We will continue to develop new materials to lead the semiconductor paradigm shift.”

 

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Semiconductor Shortage Forces Automobile Production Cuts

10th January 2021
"Officials at Volkswagen, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan all say they have been hit by shortages and forced to postpone the production of some models in order to keep other factories going."

A increasing global shortage of semiconductors for auto parts is forcing major car companies to stop or delay the production of vehicles just as they were recovering from factory shutdowns due to pandemics.

Officials at Volkswagen, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan all say they have been hit by shortages and forced to postpone the production of some models in order to keep other factories going.

Ford

Industry officials say that semiconductor companies diverted production to consumer electronics during the worst of COVID-19 sales slowdown last spring. Global automakers have been forced to close plants to prevent the spread of the virus. There wasn't enough chips when automakers recovered.

The industry needs six to nine months of lead time to get chips through a complex supplier network.

When overseas factories producing the chips were forced to shut down in the early phases of the pandemic, the problems began. After the Trump administration placed sanctions on 11 Chinese firms for alleged labor violations, the issue was worsened last July.

At a factory in San Antonio, Texas, Toyota was forced to delay production of the full-size Tundra pickup. Next week, Ford had planned down time at its assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky, but pushed it forward to this week. 

Fiat Chrysler briefly shut down factories in Brampton, Ontario, and a small-scale SUV factory in Toluca, Mexico, while Volkswagen said it faced production slowdowns due to the shortage in December. Nissan said it had to shift production in Japan, but in the U.S. it has not seen a big effect so far.

Automotive manufacturers have also stopped manufacturing slower-selling cars to switch the chips to targeted market regions.

Fiat said "This will minimize the impact of the current semiconductor shortage while ensuring we maintain production at our other North American plants.”

New vehicles that have electronic features such as Bluetooth communication and driver assistance, navigational systems and electric power systems, the automotive industry uses more semiconductors than ever before. Semiconductors usually are silicon chips that perform memory and control functions for items from computers and mobile devices to cars and microwave furnaces.

According to Mordor Intelligence, the global demand for semiconductors is projected to hit approximately USD 129 billion in 2025, almost three times its size in 2019.

The scarcity of chips needed in increasingly automated cars is the latest example of how the ebbs and flows of the semiconductor industry can have product ripple effects.

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Compiled by : Rahul Shrestha Rahul Shrestha