Japan has signed off on a ￥37 billion (US$338 million) semiconductor research project to develop cutting-edge chip technology in the country with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電).
Taiwan’s chipmaking plants are among the largest and most advanced in the world, and the project is intended to boost Japan’s competitiveness in a key sector.
The move comes as the industry grapples with a global semiconductor shortage that has hampered the manufacturing of numerous products, particularly vehicles.
About 20 Japanese companies would work with TSMC in the project, with the government paying for more than half of it, a Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official said yesterday.
The research would focus in particular on tech for 3D chip assembly, allowing the creation of components that are denser, but still small.
A surge in demand for home electronics that use semiconductors, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, has throttled chip supplies — a crisis deepened by a US cold snap, a drought in Taiwan and a fire at Renesas Electronics Corp in Japan.
Semiconductors are an essential part of modern tech, from smartphones to games consoles and new vehicles, with the auto industry one of the hardest hit by the shortage.
Construction is to begin this summer on research facilities at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, the official said, with the project due to begin next year.
Among the Japanese companies involved are chemical firms Asahi Kasei Corp, Mitsui Chemicals Inc and Sumitomo Chemical Co.
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