Trimethylgallium (TMG) is a clear, pyrophoric liquid. It bears no color. Traces of TMG are naturally found in bauxite and zinc ores. Synthetically, it is a result of the reaction between dimethylzinc and gallium trichloride. Its molecular formula is (CH3)3Ga and the molecular weight is 114.8. TMG is the preferred metalorganic source of gallium for MOVPE (Metalorganic Vapor Phase Epitaxy) of compound semiconductors. It dissolves in saturated and aromatic aliphatic as well as cylcoaliphatic hydrocarbons.
Hydrocarbon solutions of TMG catch fire when exposed to air, on attaining sufficient saturation. TMG reacts violently with water and other compounds that provide active and labile hydrogen. This makes it extremely necessary to handle TMG with caution and care. Manufacturers ensure that water is completely removed from the process equipment before it is inserted into metal alkyls service.
TMG melts at -16°C and boils at 56°C. It has to be stored under inert atmosphere, in a cool and dry place. Recommended storage temperature is between 0° C and 25°C. It must be ensured that the temperature does not rise beyond 40°C as this may lead to deterioration. At elevated temperatures, the chemical undergoes exothermic decomposition, which produces methane and an amorphous solid that has up to 50% gallium.
TMG has widespread applications in electronics and semi-conductor devices. It is most-commonly used to manufacture LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. An important factor aiding demand is its large-scaled use as a precursor in the process of metalorganic chemical vapor deposition. Experts have predicted that worldwide demand for precursor materials like TMG would increase by 100% over the next six years. These factors are anticipated to contribute to high global demand over the forthcoming years.
TMG is of great importance in the production of LED chips. It acts as a chief raw material which enables optimal light efficiency for each LED layer. It is the most coveted raw material used for producing semiconductors for opto-electronic applications such as photodiodes, cameras, photo transistors, and photo resistors. It also gets incorporated in optical fiber communications.
A major source of demand for LED lights is the electronics industry. LEDs serve as display screens in multiple electronic devices such as televisions, laptop screens and smart phone displays. Such devices are increasingly being used in both, the developed and the developing economies. Growing global electronics sector is therefore a critical factor fueling growth of the global TMG market over the forecast period. Moreover, LEDs are viewed as an integral part of various measures to conserve energy. Nations all over the world are focusing attention and resources on saving energy with an aim to create a sustainable planet. This environmental-friendly approach is anticipated to continue, rather gain momentum in the coming years. Consequently, demand for TMG will also grow.
Large handling capacities of GaN technology have been previously adopted in military and defense applications. They are now gaining visibility and acceptance in the space of commercial wireless infrastructure and satellites. This may open up new market opportunities in the near future.
However, growth of global TMG market may be hindered by certain issues. TMG faces threat from substitutes such as trimethyl aluminium and trimethylindium. Moreover, liquid crystals derived from organic compounds are also replacing LEDs in visual displays. Indium phosphide components act as alternatives to GaAs infrared laser diodes in certain wavelength applications. Higher adoption of the above-mentioned replacements will have an adverse effect on demand for TMG.
TMG has also been found to be hazardous to human health. TMG vapors are known to irritate the respiratory system. If ingested, the chemical causes burns in the mouth, throat and gastrointestinal area and leads to severe nausea and vomiting. In case of direct exposure, TMG also results in skin problems. It is known to impart severe burns to skin and eyes. Therefore, manufacturers must ensure that workers who handle this chemical have adequate personal protective gear. For packaging and transportation of TMG, companies like Akzonobel use containers that are fabricated from stainless steel. These containers have an electro-polished internal finish. Additionally, they are equipped with diaphragm valves, and a dip tube for top discharge.
Asia Pacific is home to several end use industries of TMG. Therefore it occupied maximum share of the total global market revenues for the chemical. This region is also projected to grow at the fastest rate over the next six years. This may be attributed to rising emphasis on IT industry, power generation and conservation of energy. This is particularly observed in emerging economies such as India, China, Taiwan, and South Korea. Governments of these nations are making large investments in LED technologies as a way of conserving energy resources. The Republic of Korea has implemented a LED lighting initiative that aims to attain 100% adoption of LED lights in its public sector. Such measures are bound to prove advantageous to growth of global TMG market.
Markets in North America and Europe may also witness substantial growth on account of the expanding applications of LED in various display technologies. Thus market potential of TMG is immense across geographical segments.
Leading participants in the global TMG market are Azelis Electronics, The Dow Chemical Company, SABIC (Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation), E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Intematrix Corporation, and AkzoNobel Chemicals. Other established vendors include SAFC Hitech Ltd., Chemtura Corporation, Almemarle Corporation, Ningbo Jiayin Electro Mechanical Technology Co. Ltd., American Elements, Suzhou Puyao Electric Material Co. Ltd., NATA and Panjiva Inc.
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