Silicones and Semiconductors
KEY PLAYERS IN EUROPE’S DIGITAL AUTONOMY
Semiconductors are powering our increasingly connected world. Also known as microchips, they are essentially the ‘brain’ of every electronic device, used in smartphones, cars or medical equipment. In 2021, around 1.15 trillion semiconductor units were sold globally. This means that there were around 148 semiconductors per every person living on earth.
This number is forecasted to increase with the shift towards green mobility. For example, a compact car typically uses 300 chips, while an electric vehicle needs around 3000 semiconductors. This is one of the reasons why chips are key for Europe to achieve both the digital and green transition.
Against this backdrop, the European Commission has put forward the Chips Act aiming to confront semiconductor shortages and strengthen Europe’s technological leadership. The act aims at doubling the semiconductor production in Europe, meaning that by 2030, 20% of the world’s microchip manufacturing will take place in the EU. Domestically produced semiconductors will help Europe move closer to strategic autonomy, and silicones play an essential role in this process.
WHERE ARE SILICONES USED IN SEMICONDUCTORS?
Silicones are used in the manufacturing process of semiconductors, primarily as an insulator. The main substance used is D4 (Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane), which is transformed into very thin layers that are used to coat and protect the integrity of the microchips. The manufacturing processes of semiconductors are normally run in closed conditions to avoid any kind of emissions and contamination during production.
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