Right about the time the world was hoping to rise out of a semiconductor crisis, we're learning that the conflict in Ukraine could plunge the world further back into a chip shortage.
Little known companies like Ukraine's Cryoin play large roles in the global production of semiconductors, Wired noted this week. Cryoin, for example, makes the neon gas used to power lasers that make patterns on chips.
It supplies to the U.S., Europe, Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan - and the ripple effects of disruption in its supply "can be felt around the world," the report says.
Business development director Larissa Bondarenko told Wired that production came to a halt after Russia's invasion last Thursday. “We decided that [our employees] should stay at home for the next couple of days until the situation is clearer, to make sure that everyone is safe,” she said.
She has said there's no damage to the facility as of yet. "Cryoin has enough supplies to keep production going until the end of March," the report says.
Bondarenko says the plant had planned to re-open but "missiles over Odesa", where it is headquartered, meant that it was still too dangerous. She said she has been sleeping in her basement in her home, which is 30 minutes away. “Thank God we have one in our house,” she told Wired.
Lita Shon-Roy, president and CEO of TechCet noted that Ukraine's neon industry was first set up to take advantages of gasses produced as a byproduct of Russian steel manufacturing.
“What happens in Russia is that those [steel] companies that have the facility to capture the gas will bottle it and sell it as crude. Then someone has to purify it and take out the other [gases] and that's where Cryoin comes in,” she said.
“There were delays in shipments because of border crossing issues,” she said, talking about Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
She concluded: “The drive behind increased production is so strong that it is causing strain in the supply chain everywhere, even without a war. So there is no excess supply of this kind of gas that I know of, not in the Western world.”