At the technical level, dry etching is the mainstream at present, and atomic layer etching is the future direction. According to the process classification, the etching technology can be divided into wet etching and dry etching. Due to its great advantages in etching rate, particle damage, etc., dry etching is the mainstream technology at present. According to the characteristics of the materials to be etched, the commonly used methods at present can be divided into ion beam etching, plasma etching and reactive ion etching. Two kinds of etching equipment, capacitive plasma etching (CCP) and inductive plasma etching (ICP), basically cover the main etching applications at present. However, with the continuous reduction of semiconductor manufacturing process, due to the limitation of light wavelength, the key size cannot meet the requirements. Multiple template process must be adopted, and multiple film deposition and etching processes must be repeated to achieve smaller linewidth, which significantly increases the number of film deposition and etching, and the etching steps required for 10 nm process and 7 nm process are more than 100 times. Atomic layer etching can precisely control the amount of material removed without affecting other parts, and can better solve the problems of plasma etching, such as the difference of etching rate and the damage of lower layer materials. It is expected to develop into a new generation of mainstream etching technology in the future.
At the market level, the etching equipment industry has high concentration and broad development space. In 2021, Chinese Mainland became the largest market for semiconductor equipment in the world for the second consecutive year with equipment sales of US $29.6 billion. At present, the global semiconductor equipment market is mainly occupied by foreign enterprises. In 2021, among the top 15 semiconductor equipment manufacturers in the world, only ASM Pacific technology came from Hong Kong, China, ranking 14th. In terms of equipment investment, etching equipment accounts for 22.14% of the investment in wafer processing equipment, making it the "largest equipment" in the semiconductor industry. At present, the leading enterprises in the global etching equipment industry are still Fanlin semiconductor, Tokyo electronics and applied materials. In 2020, the total market share of the three enterprises accounted for more than 90% of the global etching equipment market, of which Fanlin semiconductor accounted for 44.7% of the market share. According to semi's prediction, the global semiconductor equipment market will reach $114 billion in 2022. We predict that the global etching equipment market will reach $25.08 billion and the domestic etching equipment market will reach $7.524 billion in 2022.
Future highlights: the advanced process continues to make breakthroughs, and the domestic replacement of the future can be expected. The first phase of the large fund established in September 2014 has entered the payback period after five years of investment layout. With the help of the large fund, domestic etching equipment enterprises have achieved some advanced process breakthroughs, and a number of leading enterprises with leading technology have emerged. The second phase of the big fund was established on October 22nd, 2019, with a registered capital of 204.15 billion yuan. The investment layout of the first phase of the relay is carried out. We predict that its focus may tilt the direction of equipment and materials, which will provide further support to enterprises in fields including lithography machines, etching machines, film equipment, testing equipment, etc., and help leading enterprises consolidate their market position. It is expected to drive trillion level social investment. From the perspective of downstream applications, at present, 5g construction in China is still in the stage of rapid development. Considering the long-term positive demand for lithium battery and photovoltaic under the "double carbon" policy, we are optimistic about the accelerated construction of domestic advanced process closed-loop supply, and we believe that etching equipment has great investment value.