July 26, 2006 – Photronics Inc., Brookfield, CT, has officially opened its photomask manufacturing site in Shanghai, China, about three years after announcing plans for its formation. A production ramp is planned by 4Q06 at the facility in the Zhangjiang Semiconductor Industrial Park, which the company noted is the first merchant photomask fab to be brought online in the Shanghai region in more than a decade.
“Our Shanghai operation is a strategic element in building a strong competitive position for Photronics, one from which our commitment to our customers’ success will enable our company to expand on its leadership position throughout Asia and around the world,” stated Soo Hong Jeong, COO and president of Photronics Asia.
Photronics’ original plans had been to open an 18.000 sq. ft facility in Shanghai in 2003, initially focusing on 0.25-micron manufacturing capabilities, as part of a five-year, $300 million expansion effort into China.
Meanwhile, Photronics has promoted Sang Soo Choi to the position of CTO of its Asia business, responsible for all regional development activities. His role will expand to day-to-day site director level management of the company’s leading-edge photomask fab in South Korea, announced in January and slated to come online in 2H07 (and also home to Photronics’ new Asia R&D center, developing masks for semiconductor and LCD manufacturing).
Choi, formerly EVP of R&D for Korean maskmaker PKL Co. Ltd. in which Photronics has long held a majority share, will play “a crucial role” in how the company is focusing on alignment and coordination between technology development and volume manufacturing deployment on a global basis, insuring that all development activities are complimentary, stated Christopher Progler, Photronics’ corporate CTO. Among Choi’s prior work is development of a haze-free process used with high fidelity imaging of advanced semiconductor circuit patterns utilizing 193nm lithography systems.
In May of this year, Photronics agreed to invest $135 million over three years in MP Mask Technology Center LLC, a JV with Micron Technology Inc. to develop and produce photomasks to support 45nm chipmaking processes. The two companies also plan to build a new “NanoFab” in Boise, to begin qualification by the end of next year, which will include an additional $100-$150 million investment from Photronics.