The worldwide semiconductor materials market grew 3 percent in 2014 to $44.3 billion, compared with 2013’s $43.05 billion, SEMI (global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for the micro- and nano-electronics industries) reports. The 2014 total was composed of $24.0 billion in wafer fabrication materials and $20.4 billion in packaging materials. Taiwan last year remained the world’s largest consumer of semiconductor materials, accounting for $9.58 billion in sales, an 8 percent increase from the prior year’s $8.91 billion.
SEMI’s Silicon Manufacturers Group reports silicon wafer area shipments increased 11 percent in 2014 to 10,098 million square inches, as against 9,067 MSI in 2013. Revenues, however, grew only 1 percent year-to-year, to $7.6 billion from $7.5 billion, still far below the 2007 peak of $12.1 billion.
Researchers around the world are constantly investigating materials that could be the successor to silicon. Molybdenum disulfide shows promise. Graphene, the “wonder material” with many exciting attributes, is difficult to employ as a semiconductor material due to its lack of a bandgap, although bandgaps can be found in bilayer graphene or graphene nanoribbons. Closer at hand are silicon carbide and the III-V materials, such as gallium arsenide and gallium nitride.