The Korea Herald


Biden to visit SK Siltron’s wafer plant in Michigan

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : Nov. 29, 2022 - 15:31

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US President Joe Biden (Reuters-Yonhap) US President Joe Biden (Reuters-Yonhap)

US President Joe Biden will visit SK Siltron CSS in Michigan, the American branch of silicon wafer maker SK Siltron under South Korea's SK Group, on Tuesday, according to the White House and industry sources here.

The surprise visit will mark the president’s first visit to a Korean semiconductor facility in the US.

The US president was expected to arrive at the plant Tuesday afternoon, the latest development surrounding his renewed push for rebuilding the US manufacturing sector. He was set to deliver a speech about creating manufacturing jobs and rebuilding the US economy “from the bottom up and the middle out.”

The president had planned to visit the Hemlock Semiconductor facility in August, but that trip was canceled as he suffered a “rebound” case of COVID-19. When Biden visited Korea for talks with President Yoon Suk-yeol in May, they visited Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor factory in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.

The purpose of this trip appears to tout the Biden administration’s legislative success, including the Chips and Science Act. The $280 billion package is aimed at boosting the domestic chipmaking industry and scientific research. He may also highlight exemplary cases of semiconductor investments made by foreign firms in the US.

While SK Siltron declined to give specific details on Biden’s visit, SK On's co-Chief Executive Officer Chey Jae-won, SK E&S Chief Executive Officer Yu Jeong-joon and SK Siltron CEO Jang Yong-ho were expected to attend the event.

Chey is the younger brother of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who held a virtual meeting with Biden in July to discuss the conglomerate's spending and hiring plans in the US.

SK Siltron CSS was founded in 2020 after its parent company acquired US chemical giant Dupont’s wafer division for $450 million. The company produces silicon carbide (SiC) wafers, a next-generation semiconductor material that enables the production of lighter, smaller but more efficient semiconductors. The devices are mainly used for electric vehicles.

SK Siltron CSS is currently the No. 3 provider of SiC wafers in the world, following Cree’s Wolfspeed and Coherent Corp. It has the potential to help reduce supply-chain constraints that have plagued automakers in the wake of the pandemic.

Last year, the company announced plans to invest $300 million in Michigan to expand SiC wafer manufacturing and add 150 jobs to support EV production there.