Neon, a noble gas element, is produced as a by-product of cryogenic extraction of liquid oxygen and nitrogen from air. For historical reasons, around 90% of the world’s neon production is in Russia and Ukraine, with a single company, Iceblick, accounting for 65% of global neon production from its plants in Moscow and Odessa. The largest consumer of neon is in semiconductor manufacturing, using around 70% of production. Neon is used in 193 nanometre excimer lasers, which account for a large fraction of present-day photolithography, although extreme ultraviolet is entering the market at the cutting edge.
If the conflict in Ukraine, with sanctions on Russia and Russian companies and disruptions of commercial activity and shipping within and from Ukraine, leads to shortages of industrial neon, what will be the consequences for semiconductor manufacturing, and what can producers do to mitigate the impact?