The global photolithography equipment market size was valued at USD 9,468 million in 2021, envisioned to reach USD 14,096 million, expanding at a CAGR of 5.1% during the forecast period. Lithography is the process of transferring a design from a photomask to the surface of a wafer. During the lithography process, the wafer is subjected to an ultraviolet laser beam, which passes through an unpatterned photomask layer and is irradiated onto the wafer's photoresist. Photolithography, electron beam, X-ray, extreme ultraviolet, ion projection, and immersion lithography are the various lithography processes. Globally, numerous industry verticals are using photolithography because of its importance in the modern semiconductor industry and widespread adoption. It determines a semiconductor wafer's line dimensions before etching, dictating the pattern resolution. Photolithography is utilized due to its capacity to execute extremely exact incisions. It is a process that demands an exceedingly clean substrate surface and optimal temperature conditions.
High demand for smaller electronic devices, increasing Internet of Things penetration, and the expansion of the semiconductor sector are the primary drivers driving the growth of the photolithography equipment market. However, to some degree, high equipment operational and maintenance costs and limits of the procedure for curved surfaces hinder the development of the photolithography equipment market. Lockdowns during pandemics in multiple nations impacted the worldwide supply chain, decreasing demand for various consumer devices. Consequently, the decline in wafer demand during the pandemic affected the need for photolithography equipment. On the contrary, technological advances are anticipated to create attractive growth prospects for the global photolithography equipment market.
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The Increased Demand for Miniaturized Electronic and Advancement of Semiconductor Industry
Miniaturized electronic equipment is gaining popularity in the semiconductor industry as the demand for high-performance electronics increases. In addition, the rising demand for innovative consumer electronics drives the need for flexible and compact integrated circuits. In addition, the growth of technologies like RFID, MEMS devices, and other power devices increases the demand for thin wafers. This is because thin wafers reduce package thickness, particularly for smartphones, handheld gadgets, and compact electronic items. These developing applications that employ extremely thin and ultrathin die generate substantial demand for tiny electronic devices and contribute to expanding the worldwide photolithography equipment market.
Due to the emergence of IoT, cloud computing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence, the semiconductor sector has experienced significant growth in recent years. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), the global semiconductor sector witnessed USD 468.8 billion in sales in 2018, the biggest yearly total in the industry's history and an increase of 13.7% over 2017. The rising need for wafers and chips production and fabrication processes is fueled by the increasing demand for semiconductor devices and materials, which stimulates the photolithography equipment market.
The Restriction of Photolithography for Curved Surface
In photolithography, stiff masks are typically employed to define the pattern. In contact-mode photolithography, a rigid and flat mask only comes into contact with a spherically curved surface at a single point, whereas in projection-mode photolithography, the features of the mask concentrate on a tiny part of the exposed region. Therefore, photolithography's capacity to pattern curved surfaces is constrained by the features of the pattern-transfer element. Certain limitations of photolithography include restrictions on resolution, alignment, and registration caused by using a flat, two-dimensional elastomeric mask stretched over a spherical surface. Developing modern consumer electronics, such as curved displays and smart wearables, presents several difficulties due to photolithography. To master the patterning of curved surfaces, the distortion generated by applying a flat mask to a curved surface must be eliminated through research.
The Increase in Demand for Advanced Consumer Goods
Globally, the prevalence of emerging technologies such as wearables, augmented and virtual reality, 4K televisions, smart homes, 3D printing, drones, autonomous cars, and communicative robots are rapidly expanding. These game-changing technologies necessitate the development of sophisticated consumer electronics in the search for better, lighter, stronger, quicker, and more cost-effective goods. Flexible and printable electronics pave the path for evolving customer needs by providing unprecedented flexibility. Manufacturers are anticipated to progress in decreasing and optimizing development cycles during the projected period. Thus, photolithography plays a vital role in improving the manufacture of electronics, fostering growth opportunities in the market for photolithography equipment.
The global photolithography equipment market is classified based on process, application, light source, and region.
Based on process, the segments are ultraviolet (UV), deep ultraviolet (DUV), and extreme ultraviolet (EUV)
The ultraviolet (UV) section is projected to advance at a CAGR of 3.9% and hold the largest market share. UV photolithography is a conventional method for masking and structuring a wafer before any additive or subtractive stages in semiconductor fabrication. UV photolithography is one of the essential semiconductor manufacturing procedures. The masks utilized in this technique account for 30% of the total production cost. Therefore, manufacturers are investing in developing a photolithography technique that does not require a mask, reducing the overall cost of semiconductor devices. In addition, new photolithography applications are anticipated to provide unique market expansion prospects.
The deep ultraviolet (DUV) section will hold the second-largest share. Deep ultraviolet (DUV) photolithography identifies a pattern in a thin photoresist using a regulated wavelength of light, in which the resultant polymer is moved into or onto the underlying substrate via etching, deposition, or implantation. DUV photolithography is excellent for producing vast quantities of chips simultaneously. Therefore, it is a time- and cost-efficient technology for the mass production of semiconductors, as 200–1,000 semiconductors can be produced at once.
Based on the application, the front end and back end segments.
The back-end section is projected to advance at a CAGR of 5.5% and hold the largest market share. Wafer backgrounding, wafer mounting, sawing, die-attach, die-attach cure, marking, lead finish (plating), post-mold cure (PMC), molding, wire bonding, trim/form/singulations, final test, final visual inspection, packing, and shipping comprise the back-end process. The growth rate of back-end photolithography has decreased due to developments and advancements in the semiconductor industry's front-end process. Nevertheless, the emergence of maskless exposure (MLE) technology is beneficial for back-end photolithography.
The front-end section will hold the second-largest share. The front-end process comprises wafer preparation, semiconductor fabrication, pattern preparation, stepper exposure, photoresist coating, oxidation, development, etching ion implementation, chemical vapor deposition, metallization, and wafer testing.
The segments are mercury lamp, fluorine laser, excimer laser, and others based on the light source.
The others section is projected to advance at a CAGR of 5.6% and hold the largest market share. Other light sources in photolithography are LED lamps emitting light at different wavelengths. UV LEDs provide a monochromatic light source with a bandwidth of 10 nm. LED lighting is affordable, energy-efficient, and long-lasting. However, their surface energy is minimal. The low power consumption of LED lamps is vital to developing photolithography light sources. Presently, UV LED lamps are being designed and included in forthcoming photolithography machines, which is anticipated to drive market expansion throughout the forecast period. In addition, quantum dot LEDs are being developed using photolithography to pattern the quantum dot layer. The market for photolithography equipment is primarily driven by the rapid development of quantum technology and the increasing need for small semiconductor devices.
The mercury lamp section will hold the second-largest share. Traditional photolithography uses a mercury lamp as a light source, which emits light with a 350–450 nm wavelength. Mercury lamp emits light at three distinct wavelengths, including g-line (436 nm), h-line (405 nm), and i-line (400 nm) (365 nm). The rising need for semiconductor components drives Mercury lamp demand. In addition, the widespread availability of lamps and their widespread application in photolithography machines contribute significantly to expanding the worldwide photolithography equipment market. In the upcoming years, however, rising energy usage is predicted to reduce its need.
The region-wise segmentation of the global photolithography equipment market includes North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and LAMEA.
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The Asia Pacific and North America will dominate the regional market
The Asia Pacific will command the market with the largest share while growing at a CAGR of 5.4%. Due to the availability of enormous power stations for high voltage electricity, the rise in demand for power modules, and the rise in population, this region is the most attractive market for gate driver integrated circuits. In addition, the existence of numerous nonprofit organizations fosters the expansion of the industry. These groups undertake various activities to construct power infrastructure using sophisticated technologies.
Asia-Pacific holds a sizeable portion of the photolithography equipment market and is anticipated to develop faster over the next several years. With a rise in demand for high-voltage working devices, businesses across many industries recognize the need for driver IC for power management. The popularity of automated switching devices and power modules is likely to be the trend that will have the most significant impact on the growth of the photolithography equipment market.
North America is projected to expand at a CAGR of 4.4% and hold USD 1,892 million. Due to technological breakthroughs, innovations, and industry investments, North America is one of the leading contributors to the market for wafer photolithography equipment. In addition, due to the growing need for smart technologies and devices, the widespread adoption and utilization of semiconductor chips and integrated circuits in North America contribute to expanding the worldwide photolithography equipment market. The expansion of the photolithography equipment market in the region is anticipated to be fueled by a rise in the demand for the analysis of massive, internet-enabled data sets, advances in sensory technologies, and an increase in the use of autonomous devices.
In North America, the development of the photolithography equipment market is driven by an increase in the use of power modules and applications and the number of electronic applications. In addition, the growth of this market is fueled by the increasing acceptance of driver IC modules and their deployment to improve switching performance and reduce energy loss. In addition, the expansion of the photolithography equipment market is fueled by an increase in spending on research and development activities across multiple industrial verticals and the adoption of smart technologies and devices.