For the supply of ITO targets, leading supplier JX Nippon Mining & Metals’ Isohara plant in Ibaraki Prefecture and third-largest supplier Tosoh Specialty Materials’ plant in Yamagata Prefecture were seriously affected by the earthquake. But second-largest supplier Mitsui Mining & Smelting’s plant was not affected. Production outside Japan should help keep sufficient supply of ITO targets.
ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) is the main type of transparent conductor, and is widely used in TFT LCDs and touch screens. The raw material for ITO deposition is the ITO target. The leading ITO target makers are JX Nikko, Mitsui, and SCP, followed by ULVAC and Heesung Metal. The two Japanese firms have more than a 70% share of the market. JX Nikkoâ€™s factory is located 80 Km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and is currently shut down. Mitsui has not been impacted by the earthquake. Panel makers generally have a month of ITO target inventory on hand, so depending on the supplier, some panel makers could begin to experience constraints.
JX Nippon Mining & Metals is the correct name of the largest Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) target supplier. The largest and the third largest, Tosoh Specialty Materials, ITO suppliers have been affected. According to DisplaySearch, LCD manufacturers have about a month worth of ITO target inventory. It will be one month in one week since the 9.0 earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan devastated the country. Unless JX Nippon Mining & Metals and Tosoh Specialty Materials resume normal production of ITO targets, LCD manufacturer ITO inventories will decline and eventually be depleted. Other ITO target suppliers will need to increase production and/or escalate research activities of ITO alternatives such as aluminum zinc oxide (AZO).