China’s 35 Critical Technologies: Have they been conquered?

Learn more about what those 35 Critical technologies include and what the situation it is in China right now.
China's 35 critical technologies Have they been conquered

Table of Contents

In 2018, Science and Technology Daily published a series of articles reporting on the 35 “bottleneck” key technologies hindering the development of China’s industry, attracting widespread attention and discussion.

Now, almost five years later, have these technologies been overcome?

After researching each item and reviewing publicly available information, we have found that China has at least overcome 21 key technologies. In contrast, others are still being researched or have not been made public for other reasons.

1. Lithography Machine

The accuracy of the photolithography machine used in chip manufacturing determines the upper limit of chip performance. At the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” Science and Technology Achievement Exhibition, the best photolithography machine produced in China had a processing accuracy of 90 nanometers, which is equivalent to the level of the Pentium 4 CPU that was released in 2004. However, foreign countries have already achieved accuracy in the range of tens of nanometers.

The photolithography machine contains two synchronized workstations, one carrying a substrate and the other carrying a film. Both need to remain synchronized, with an error of fewer than 2 nanometers. The two workstations move from stationary to dynamic, with acceleration similar to the missile launch. During operation, it is like two large airplanes taking off and landing together, with one airplane extending a knife to engrave characters on a grain of rice on the other airplane, without damaging it.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

The latest development in domestic photolithography machines is that Shanghai Microelectronics’ fully-featured 28nm photolithography machine is expected to be released in mid-year. Note that currently the most advanced photolithography machine is owned by Dutch company ASML, and their EUV photolithography machine can achieve a process production of up to 5 nanometers.

2. Electronic Chips

Low-speed optical and electronic chips have been domestically produced, but high-speed ones are still fully dependent on imports. The most advanced chip mass production accuracy overseas is 10 nanometers, while China’s is only 28 nanometers, a two-generation gap. According to reports, in multiple fields such as computer systems, general electronic systems, communication equipment, memory devices, and display and video systems, China’s domestically produced chips have a market share of 0.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

The Chinese chip manufacturer, Guoxin Semiconductor, has begun mass production of its 12-nanometer process. Note: Currently, TSMC has already begun mass production of its 5-nanometer process.

3. Operating System

To an ordinary person, China’s IT industry appears to be thriving, with a little technological gap from other countries. However, this is not entirely true. Three American companies dominate the operating systems for smartphones and personal computers. Data shows that in 2017, the Android operating system had a market share of 85.9%, while Apple’s iOS was at 14%. Other systems only accounted for 0.1%, which were mostly Microsoft’s Windows and BlackBerry, both American companies. Without Google’s paving the way, smartphones would not have become so ubiquitous, and Chinese smartphone manufacturers’ free use of Android comes at the cost of potentially being cut off at any time.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

Recently, the well-known analysis firm, Counterpoint Research, released a data report on mobile operating systems. According to the report, in Q4 2022, Huawei’s HarmonyOS had a global market share of 2% and a market share of 8% in China.

4. Aircraft Engine Nacelle

The “housing” on an airplane where the engine is placed, commonly known as the “nacelle,” is one of the most important core components of the aircraft propulsion system, accounting for about 1/4 of the total cost of the engine. The nacelle needs to encase the engine to reduce flight resistance, and its air inlet also needs to have the ability to prevent and remove ice. During the flight, the nacelle must protect the engine from interference to ensure normal operation. On the ground, it should be convenient for the maintenance and repair of the engine. Once the nacelle is damaged, it may cause serious engine accidents during flight. The larger the nacelle, the higher the technical difficulty. China is still blank in this important field. According to all public information, there is no specialized institution in China for the independent research and development of nacelles, and related universities do not seem to have established relevant disciplines.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In March, Tianjin Port received the first LEAP-1A engine nacelle to enter China, which is assembled domestically for the first time.

5. Tactile Sensor

Tactile sensors are core components of industrial robots. The precise and stable requirements have hindered the progress of most Chinese enterprises toward tactile sensors. Currently, most domestic sensor companies are engaged in the production of gas, temperature, and other types of sensors. In an industry with over 100 companies, there are almost no sensor manufacturers producing tactile sensors. Japanese array-type sensors can distribute 100 sensitive elements in a 10 cm x 10 cm matrix, with a price of 100,000 yuan, while domestic products are mostly point-type sensors, generally priced at 100 yuan each.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In December 2021, Zhejiang University published an article titled “Breaking through the bottleneck of tactile sensors! Zhejiang University Ningbo Campus helps ‘domestic tactile sensors’ go global” on its official website, introducing the process of Xia Qinghua’s team collaborating with Beijing Soft Robotics Technology Co., Ltd. to develop tactile sensors.

In 2022, Professor Zhou Wei’s team at the School of Aerospace Engineering at Xiamen University made significant progress in the field of flexible tactile sensors, proposing a new working mode of flexible tactile sensors that can achieve ultra-sensitive and high-frequency dynamic force detection, breaking through the theoretical limit of sensitivity of traditional sensors.

6. Vacuum Deposition Machine

The “heart” of the OLED panel manufacturing process is the vacuum deposition machine. Japan’s Canon Tokki has a monopoly on the high-end market and controls the industry’s lifeline. Predictions for its annual output usually range from a few to a dozen machines. Even with money, it is hard to buy one. Canon Tokki can control the error of depositing organic luminescent materials onto substrates within 5 microns (1 micron is equivalent to 1% of the diameter of a human hair), a precision that no other company’s deposition machine can achieve. Currently, there are no domestic manufacturers of deposition machines in China, and we have no say in this field.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

Currently, Hefei Xinyihua, Zhongshan Kaixuan, and Lead Equipment have made breakthroughs in OLED vapor deposition technology. Their vacuum vapor deposition machines have reached a level close to that of Japan’s Canon Tokki, which has filled the gap for Chinese enterprises in this field and broken the monopoly of foreign companies in vacuum vapor deposition machines.

7. Mobile RF (Radio Frequency) devices

One-third of the space on a mobile phone’s motherboard is occupied by the RF circuit. The development trend of mobile phones is towards lighter, thinner, lower power consumption, more frequency bands, and larger bandwidth, which poses challenges to RF chips. RF chips convert digital signals into electromagnetic waves, and a 4G phone needs to support more than ten frequency bands with an information bandwidth of several tens of megabits. In 2018, the RF chip market was worth $15 billion, with the high-end market dominated by three companies: Skyworks, Qorvo, and Broadcom, with Qualcomm, also occupying a position. The other key component of RF devices, filters, has an even greater gap between domestic and foreign companies. High-end filters used in mobile phones, with a market worth several billion dollars, are completely dominated by foreign RF device giants such as Qorvo. China is the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturing country, but it cannot produce high-end mobile phone RF devices. This requires a solid accumulation of materials, processes, and design experience.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In March 2022, China’s well-known semiconductor company, Fullhan Micro announced that the 5G RF chip it had previously mass-produced had begun to be supplied in bulk. In addition, Huawei has also started selling phone cases with built-in 5G RF chips. This marks China’s complete breakthrough in the core technology of mobile phone RF components.

Leading domestic RF module solution provider, Sunwave Communications recently launched a new generation of high-integration RF front-end module (Phase8 L-PAMiD) product FCX62985, which is the first domestically produced Phase8 L-PAMiD. The company will achieve the localization of the RF front-end product line through this product.

8. iCLIP (individual-nucleotide resolution UV crosslinking and immunoprecipitation)

iCLIP is an emerging experimental technology and one of the most critical techniques for developing innovative drugs. Its invention allows researchers to determine the precise location where RNA (ribonucleic acid) and proteins intersect, and even read out the site “code,” without relying on sophisticated observation instruments. The iCLIP technique is challenging, like finding a needle in a haystack, requiring researchers to identify one or several specific binding sites from billions of base pairs with great precision. Foreign research teams have launched a “technology race” in this field, with research papers published in a matter of months. However, there are few mature experiences in this area in domestic laboratories.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

There have been no new advances in this technology field in China.

9. Heavy-Duty Gas Turbines

Gas turbines are widely used in ships, trains, and large power plants. China has the ability to independently develop light gas turbines, but heavy-duty turbines, still rely mostly on imported technology. The major international manufacturers of heavy-duty gas turbines include GE from the US, Mitsubishi from Japan, Siemens from Germany, and Ansaldo from Italy. Cooperation with these companies typically comes with stringent conditions, such as the non-transfer of design technology and manufacturing technology for core hot-end components, and only allowing the production of non-core components under a license. Without independent capability, China’s energy security remains vulnerable to the risk of being “choked” by others.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In November 2020, Dongfang Electric Group successfully achieved full-load stable operation of the first domestically produced F-class 50 MW heavy-duty gas turbine, the G50. This marked a breakthrough in heavy-duty gas turbine technology in China and demonstrated the country’s ability to produce such turbines domestically and replace imports.

10. Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging)

Lidar is a type of sensor that comes with its own light source, actively emitting lasers to perceive the surrounding environment, much like how bats use echolocation. It is an essential component for autonomous vehicles, determining the evolution of the self-driving industry. However, in this field, Chinese-made products have almost no say. Currently, among the self-driving cars that can be driven on the road, almost all of those that involve lidar use products from Velodyne, a company from the United States. Its lidar products are the industry standard and occupy more than 80% of the market share.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In January 2022, Shandong Furui Optoelectronic Technology Co., Ltd. developed a lidar, breaking the foreign technology monopoly.

11. Airworthiness Standards

In order for an aviation engine to obtain an airworthiness certificate, it must undergo a very strict system of “airworthiness” standards verification, covering design, manufacturing, verification, and management. Currently, the airworthiness certification of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has the greatest influence and the highest recognition internationally. Although China’s regulations and requirements are basically consistent with the FAA’s, the lack of domestically produced aviation engine models and practical engineering experience means that China’s airworthiness regulations lack corresponding technical support. The airworthiness verification work of actual models has become a bottleneck that prevents them from entering the airspace of other countries.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In October 2017, the China Civil Aviation Airworthiness Approval Center was officially established. With the development of domestically-produced aviation engines such as the CJ-1000 series and the WS-16 engine, it will provide urgently-needed supporting technical documents for CCAR33 airworthiness regulations.

12. High-End Capacitors and Resistors

Capacitors and resistors are the golden supporting actors in the electronic industry. China is the largest market for basic electronic components, consuming trillions of resistors and capacitors annually. However, the best consumer-grade capacitors and resistors come from Japan. The capacitor market is worth over 20 billion US dollars per year, and the resistor market is also worth billions of dollars. The most important feature of high-end capacitors and resistors is that they should be as consistent as possible within the same batch. Japan excels in this area, while domestic enterprises in China have a significant gap. Most of the products made by domestic enterprises are in the mid-to-low-end range, and they are relatively weak in terms of technology, materials, and quality control.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

Currently, domestic enterprises in this industry are still concentrated in the mid-to-low-end segment.

13. Core Industrial Software

The core industrial software field in China is still largely a “no man’s land”. The lack of industrial software is causing problems for intelligent manufacturing. When industrial systems become complex, computer-assisted industrial software is needed to replace human calculation. For example, the EDA software, which is a “must-have artifact” for chip design and production, has no difference in design principles between domestic and mainstream US EDA tools, but there is a significant performance gap in the software, mainly in the insufficient support for advanced technology and processes and the “generation gap” between domestic and foreign advanced EDA tools. The three major foreign EDA giants Cadence, Synopsys, and Mentor occupy 70% of the total annual revenue of the industry worldwide. The development of independent industrial operating systems and an independent industrial software system is urgent.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In the domestic market, only the penetration rates of ERP/CAD/CAE/CAPP in China’s industrial software industry have exceeded 50%, and business management software such as UFIDA Network and Kingdee Software have initially gained a dominant position in the industry chain. The penetration rates of most other industrial software are mostly below 30%, and the situation where foreign-funded enterprise products dominate the market remains relatively severe.

14. ITO Target Material

ITO target material is not only used for manufacturing liquid crystal displays, flat panel displays, plasma displays, touch screens, electronic paper, and organic light-emitting diodes but also for solar cells and transparent conductive coatings for anti-static and EMI shielding. It has a wide market globally. The thickness of ITO film varies depending on the functional requirements, generally ranging from 30 nanometers to 200 nanometers. In terms of size, domestic ITO target material enterprises have rarely made breakthroughs, and the backend flat panel display manufacturing companies have to rely on foreign supplies. The production of large-size sintered ITO target material requires large sintering furnaces. Foreign manufacturers can produce single target material pieces that are up to 1,200 millimeters wide and nearly 3,000 millimeters long, while domestic manufacturers can only produce targets that are no wider than 800 millimeters. In terms of output efficiency, Japanese equipment can produce 30 to 50 tons per month, while our annual output is only 30 tons. Importing one such piece of equipment costs up to 10 million yuan, which is a sky-high price for domestic small businesses.

China consumes more than 1,000 tons of ITO target material annually, and about half of it is imported to produce high-end products.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In November 2021, the team of academician He Jilin at Zhengzhou University achieved a breakthrough in the manufacturing and production of high-end ITO targets in China, through the “Key Technology and Engineering of High-performance ITO Targets for Flat Panel Displays” project.

According to CCTV, the ITO targets developed by academician He Jilin not only meet international standards for key technical indicators but also achieve import substitution and reduce the price of Japanese targets by 83.75%. Previously, the price of targets sold to China was 8,000 yuan per kilogram, but after breaking the monopoly, the value dropped to 1,300 yuan per kilogram.

15. Core Algorithm

China has been the world’s largest market for robot applications for five consecutive years, but high-end robots still rely on imports. Due to a lack of core algorithms, key indicators such as stability, failure rate, and ease of use of domestically produced industrial robots are far inferior to the products of the “big four” industrial robot manufacturers: Fanuc (Japan), ABB (Switzerland), Yaskawa (Japan), and KUKA (Germany). The large gap in core algorithms results in poor stability and high failure rates of domestically produced robots. The algorithmic gap is not only reflected in the core controller but also slows down the response speed of the servo system.

For each action completed by a robot, the core controller, servo driver, and servo motor need to work together. For a single servo system, domestically produced robots have high dynamic and static accuracy, but high-end robots generally have six or more servo systems, and it is difficult to achieve good control results using traditional control methods.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In the field of industrial robotics, China still has many hardware technologies that need breakthroughs. However, in terms of software, there have been significant advances in core algorithms, no longer being restricted by other countries.

16. Aerospace Steel Materials

Whether taking off or landing, the landing gear is the only component that supports the aircraft, especially during the landing phase, where it bears not only the weight of the aircraft but also the tremendous vertical force. Therefore, the material strength of the landing gear must be extremely excellent and can only rely on special steel. Currently, the most widely used is the 300M steel from the United States, which uses vacuum heat treatment technology to avoid hydrogen infiltration, with a bright surface, no decarburization, carbonization, grain boundary oxidation, and other defects, improving the surface quality. However, domestically produced ultra-high strength steel used to make landing gears may sometimes have problems such as point defects, sulfide inclusions, coarse crystals, internal cracks, and hydrogen permeation during heat treatment, which are related to insufficient purity in the smelting process. Therefore, there is still a large gap between China and the United States in high-purity melting technology, and there is considerable room for improvement.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

The successful development and production of 300M ultra-high-strength steel by Baosteel Special Steel Co., Ltd. mark that in the follow-up models of C919, the landing gear will be able to achieve domestic substitution while ensuring safety.

17. Milling Cutter

With the rapid construction of high-speed railways in China in recent years, the maintenance of steel rails has become a growing concern among industry experts. If maintenance is not carried out properly, it not only shortens the lifespan of the rails but also poses high safety risks. The domestically developed dual-power electric milling and grinding maintenance robot equipment, known as the “emergency vehicle” for steel rails, can provide a solution to this problem. However, the core component of the milling and grinding vehicle, the milling cutter, still needs to be imported from abroad. The material of the milling cutter is a type of superhard alloy material. While we understand its metal composition, we are not clear on how it is formulated and synthesized, much like the ancestral secret recipe of certain traditional Chinese medicine and the proportion of various medicinal herbs.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

With continuous R&D investment and accumulated production experience by domestic milling cutter companies, the quality of domestically produced mid-to-high-end milling cutters has been continuously improving. The performance gap between domestic milling cutters and those from Europe, America, Japan, and South Korea is gradually narrowing. Domestic milling cutter companies will gradually achieve import substitution in the mid-to-high-end milling cutter field.

18. High-end Bearing Steel

As an indispensable core component of mechanical equipment, bearings support the rotation of mechanical bodies, reduce their friction coefficient, and ensure their rotational accuracy. Whether it’s airplanes, cars, high-speed trains, or high-precision machine tools and instruments, they all require bearings. This puts high demands on their precision, performance, service life, and reliability. While China’s manufacturing process for bearings is close to world-class levels, the material – high-end bearing steel – almost entirely relies on imports.

The research and development, manufacturing, and sales of high-end bearing steel are basically monopolized by world-bearing giants such as Timken from the United States and SKF from Sweden. In the past few years, they have established bases in Yantai and Jinan in Shandong Province, purchasing low-end materials from China and using their core technology to produce high-end bearings, which they sell to the Chinese market at ten times the price. Adding rare earth to the steel-making process can make the originally high-quality steel even “stronger”. However, how to add it is the core secret of the world-bearing giants.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

Chinese researchers have successfully solved the problem of oxygen content in bearing steel, reducing the oxygen content to below 5 ppm. They have also broken through the technology of adding “rare earth” to the steel, which is considered a core secret by western-bearing giants.

Now, Xingcheng Special Steel has developed high-end bearing steel, which is exported to developed countries, and world-renowned bearing supplier, Chizhou Chunzhijishu Material Co., Ltd, directly purchases and exports to Europe with their own label.

19. High-Pressure Plunger Pump

The hydraulic system is one of the key components in equipment manufacturing, and all engineering fields that involve mechanical equipment rely on hydraulic systems. The high-pressure axial piston pump is the core component of high-end hydraulic equipment and is known as the “heart” of the hydraulic system. The scale of China’s hydraulic industry became the world’s second-largest in 2017, but the industry is big but not strong, especially for high-pressure axial piston pumps with a rated pressure of over 35MPa, over 90% of which are dependent on imports. Compared with foreign brands, domestically produced hydraulic axial piston pumps have a significant gap in technological advancement, working reliability, service life, variable mechanism control functions, and dynamic and static performance indicators. They are basically equivalent to the level of foreign brands in the early 1990s.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In October 2018, the Shanxi Economic Daily published an article titled “Proud Moment! Taiyuan Heavy Industry’s Hydraulic Pump Product Breaks International Monopoly! Adding Glory to Made in China,” reporting that Taiyuan Heavy Industry Yuci Hydraulic Industry Co., Ltd. has developed a high-performance piston pump that broke the monopoly of foreign companies.

20. Aircraft Design Software

Since the 1980s, the global aviation industry has entered a new stage of digital design and now relies heavily on software to a degree where it is impossible to design without it. Designing an aircraft requires at least a dozen specialized software programs, all of which are products of European and American countries. Domestic design units not only have to invest huge sums of money in purchasing software but also have to wear the “steel collar.” Once they are under the “spell”, the entire aviation industry will be paralyzed. According to media reports, when designing the J-10 fighter jet, the entire metal parts of the main landing gear main load-bearing structure were entrusted to foreign manufacturers. However, after manufacturing, there were problems with the retraction and extension of the landing gear, with a deviation of 5 millimeters, which had to be re-ordered and manufactured. Only a small error like this delayed the first flight of the J-10 by eight or nine months. Without full digital software support, any slight deviation can become a nightmare for the manufacturing industry.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

China has a talent pool and theoretical foundation for aviation design software, such as finite element software used to design structural strength, which is based on the “finite element” theory proposed by academician Feng Kang. Relevant departments have also organized research units to concentrate on developing corresponding software. However, to date, there is no domestically produced software that is widely used in the market.

21. Photoresist

Although China has become a major producer of semiconductors in the world, the overall industry chain of the panel industry remains relatively backward. Currently, almost all of the photoresist used for LCDs relies on imports, and the core technology is still monopolized by Japanese companies such as TOK, JSR, Sumitomo Chemical, and Shin-Etsu Chemical. Taking BOE, which has a certain level of international competitiveness, for example, it has established 17-panel display production bases, of which 16 have been put into operation. However, the photoresist used for high-end panels by BOE is still provided by foreign companies. The main components of photoresist include polymer resin, color paste, monomer, photosensitive initiator, solvent, and additives. The development of this technology involves many technical problems, including the design and screening of oligomer structure, determination and optimization of the synthesis process, selection, and control of active monomers, control, and stability of color paste fineness, formulation design and optimization, process optimization and stability of product production, and matching and tolerance adjustment of final use conditions. Therefore, independent research and development and production of photoresists pose a very high level of technical difficulty.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

Currently, domestic photoresist companies in China mainly focus on the relatively low-tech PCB photoresist field, which accounts for over 90% of the market share. In the high-tech semiconductor photoresist market, there are only a few companies such as Beijing Rainbow Technology (Beijing KeHua), Huamao Technology (Xuzhou Bokang), Nanjing Huaguang, Jingrui Electronic Materials, and Shanghai NewSun. However, their products mainly focus on relatively low-end G/I-line photoresists. Currently, domestic companies such as Beijing KeHua and Xuzhou Bokang can achieve KrF photoresist mass production.

In the high-end ArF photoresist field, domestic companies are still in the research and validation stage. As for EUV photoresists, they are still not available from domestic companies.

22. Common Rail System (CRS)

The electronically controlled diesel high-pressure common rail system is like the “heart” and “brain” of a diesel engine, and the quality of this system has a significant impact on the engine’s performance. The diesel engine industry is an important equipment foundation for driving a country’s economic growth and social operation. China is a major market and producer of diesel engines globally, but in the domestic market for electronically controlled diesel high-pressure common rail systems, German, American, and Japanese companies hold the majority of the market share. Compared with the products of advanced foreign companies, domestic high-pressure common rail systems still have certain gaps in performance, functionality, quality, and consistency, and their cost advantage is not significant.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In January 2020, Dalian University of Technology published an article on its official website entitled “DUT Technology Description: High-pressure common rail fuel injection system breaks foreign monopoly”, introducing the development of a high-pressure common rail fuel injection system by Chengdu WIT Electronic Fuel Injection Co., Ltd., which broke the foreign technology monopoly.

23. Cryo-Electron Microscopy

Cryo-electron microscopy is a powerful tool for studying the microscopic structures of living organisms. The production capacity of transmission electron microscopes is one of the foundations of cryo-electron microscopy. Currently, there are only three companies in the world that produce transmission electron microscopes: JEOL, Hitachi, and FEI. There is no domestic company in China that produces transmission electron microscopes. The tools used with cryo-electron microscopes need to be original, and if a part is damaged, it can only be replaced by waiting for the replacement part to arrive. For users of cryo-electron microscopes in China, this kind of experience may continue for some time.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

At present, there is no Chinese company producing transmission electron microscopes, and vigorously developing this technology to achieve domestic substitution has become an urgent task for China.

24. Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM)

The main bearing, also known as the “heart” of a full-section tunnel boring machine, bears the main load during the operation of the machine and is a key component of the cutter head drive system. It operates under extremely harsh conditions. Compared with traditional rolling bearings with a diameter of only a few hundred millimeters, the diameter of the main bearing of a tunnel boring machine is generally several meters, making it the most complex type of bearing that requires over a hundred manufacturing processes. In terms of the overall manufacturing capabilities of tunnel boring machines, domestically produced tunnel boring machines are close to the world’s most advanced level, but all the crucial main bearings are imported from German companies such as Rothe Erde, IMO, FAG, and SKF, which dominate the market.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In April 2022, China’s first domestically-produced 3-meter diameter main bearing shield machine, “CR872,” emerged from underground, marking the successful completion of its tunneling mission.

25. Microspheres

Microspheres, with a diameter one-thirtieth the thickness of a human hair, are essential components in many industries. In smartphone screens, 100 microspheres are needed per square millimeter to support the two glass panels and the liquid crystal in between. Without them, the liquid crystal display (LCD) screen would not function. Microspheres are also critical in chip manufacturing, food safety testing, disease diagnosis, biopharmaceuticals, environmental monitoring, and more. In the field of microelectronics alone, China imports microspheres worth several billion yuan each year. In 2017, mainland China’s shipment volume of LCD panels reached 33% of the global total, with an industrial scale of about $100 billion, making it the world’s largest producer. However, the crucial materials in these panels, such as spacer microspheres and conductive gold balls, are only available from one or two companies in Japan. These materials, like chips, have become a bottleneck in the industry.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In October 2021, an article by “National Business Daily” reported that Suzhou Nano-Micro Technology Co., Ltd. had achieved domestic production of microspheres for LCD frames, marking a breakthrough in the localization of this critical material.

26. Underwater Connectors

In addition to ships and remote sensing satellites, the ocean observation network has become the third type of marine observation platform through which humans can explore and understand the ocean depths. If various cable observation platforms can be compared to arms and legs, then underwater connectors are like joints that play an irreplaceable role in the construction, operation, and maintenance of the underwater observation network system. Currently, China’s underwater connector market is dominated by foreign companies. Once these connectors become banned items, the construction and operation of the entire ocean observation network will be forced to halt.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In May 2022, an article titled “China develops first domestic deep-sea horizontal clamp connector” was published by The Paper, reporting on the successful development of a horizontal clamp connector by Harbin Engineering University in collaboration with CNOOC Offshore Oil Engineering Co. Ltd. This breakthrough confirms that China has achieved technological advancements in underwater connectors.

27. The Key Materials for Fuel Cells

The key materials for fuel cells are crucial for determining their lifespan and performance. While fuel cell vehicles have already achieved mass production abroad, in China, they are still in the stage of technical verification. Currently, there are few parts manufacturers, no companies producing fuel cell stacks for vehicles, and only a few commercial fuel cell vehicles in operation. Some of these key materials are available in China, and some laboratory results have even reached international levels. However, without mass production lines, the fuel cell industry chain is still obstructed. The long-term dependence on foreign key materials poses a risk to China’s fuel cell industry if they are subject to sales bans or other restrictions.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In 2020, Suzhou Kerun’s proton exchange membrane NEPTM-3015 series fuel cell generator passed the strong inspection of the National Vehicle Quality Supervision and Inspection Center. In 2021, companies such as Suzhou Qindong and Himalaya developed fuel cell catalysts. Also in 2021, Shanghai Hesen Electric Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Jiping New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. have the ability to produce carbon paper in small batches.

28. High-end Welding Power Supply

China is a maritime power with over 3 million square kilometers of ocean territory and is actively developing high-end ocean resource development and marine rights protection equipment. When equipment in the sea experiences cracks or other malfunctions, it needs to be repaired using welding equipment, also known as the “sewing machine” of industrial manufacturing. Deep-sea welding is achieved through underwater robots. Although China is the world’s largest welding power supply manufacturing base with an annual production capacity exceeding 10 million sets, high-end welding power supplies are mostly monopolized by foreign companies. China’s underwater welding technology has been difficult to improve due to limitations in high-end welding power supply technology. Foreign welding power supplies have relatively mature all-digital control technology, while China still mainly uses analog control technology.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

Industry insiders believe that the era when foreign companies dominated the high-end segment of the power supply market has passed. Currently, domestic power supplies have also gained a foothold in the industry and are gradually replacing imported power supply products, while also expanding overseas. Power supply companies such as Maoshuo are planning to enter foreign markets.

29. Lithium-ion Battery Separator

As the “heart” of new energy vehicles, domestically produced lithium-ion batteries (hereinafter referred to as lithium batteries) still face some instability. Among the four core materials of the battery, the positive and negative electrode materials and electrolytes have all achieved domestic production, but the separator is still a weak link. High-end separator technology has a high threshold, requiring huge investments, as well as a strong research and development and production team, sophisticated process technology, and high-level production lines. Currently, high-end separators still heavily rely on imports.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

Of the six core materials in lithium-ion batteries, the separator was the last to achieve domestic production. Ten years ago, 80% of the lithium-ion separator market was dominated by manufacturers from the United States, Japan, and other countries. However, today, Chinese lithium-ion separator companies account for over 80% of the global market share in terms of shipment volume.

30. Medical Imaging Equipment Components

Currently, most components of domestically produced medical imaging equipment in China rely on imports, and it will take at least 10 to 20 years to reach the existing level of others. In traditional medical imaging such as CT and MRI, China’s earliest patents are 20 years behind the US on average. In terms of patent numbers, the US is 10 times that of China. This means that the entire industry is completely controlled by foreign companies, with all intellectual property, original achievements, and scientific research accumulated abroad, and China only accounts for a small part of it.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

Although there have been some breakthroughs in domestic core components of medical imaging equipment in the past decade, they have not yet formed a significant commercial or market share. Now, domestic substitutes for upstream components in medical imaging are beginning to accelerate. In the entire landscape of medical imaging, only DR (digital radiography) has a relatively high rate of domestic substitution. Currently, the domestication rate of DR equipment in China has reached 70%.

31. The Ultra-Precision Polishing Process

The ultra-precision polishing process is very important in the modern manufacturing industry, and its application fields can directly demonstrate its significance: integrated circuit manufacturing, medical equipment, automotive parts, digital accessories, precision molds, aerospace, and aviation. “It is the soul of technology”. The United States and Japan firmly grasp the initiative of the global market, and their material composition and manufacturing processes have always been a mystery. In other words, purchasing and using their products does not mean that their products can be imitated or even replicated.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In April 2022, the Science and Technology Bureau of Xi’an City published an article on its official website titled “Qinchuangyuan Enterprise solves the bottleneck problem of ‘ultra-precision polishing technology’,” confirming that China has broken through the key technology of ultra-precision polishing technology.

32. Epoxy Resin

Carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum but has a higher strength than steel, and also has characteristics such as high-temperature resistance, corrosion resistance, fatigue resistance, and creep resistance, with one key composite material being epoxy resin. However, currently, all the high-end carbon fiber produced in China uses imported epoxy resin. Currently, China can produce higher-end carbon fibers such as T800, but Japanese company Toray mastered this technology back in the 1990s. Compared to carbon fiber, China’s high-end epoxy resin industry is even further behind the international market.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

There are many epoxy resin manufacturers in China, but there are few enterprises with a production scale of over 10,000 tons. Most epoxy resin companies still have a certain gap in production technology compared to advanced foreign processes.

33. High-strength Stainless Steel

The steel used in rocket engines must have multiple characteristics, among which high strength is an important requirement. However, the strength and rust resistance of stainless steel a contradictory pair that is difficult to achieve simultaneously. Severe rusting of rocket engine materials can have a significant impact. Achieving high strength and rust resistance simultaneously solely through material properties is a worldwide challenge. Currently, most of China’s aerospace materials use foreign materials from the 1960s and 1970s. Developed countries strictly control impurity content during production, and if purity standards are not met, the material is sent back to the furnace. However, domestic manufacturers often lack this rigorous attitude.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

China has independently developed the third generation of ultra-high-strength stainless steels, F863 steel and USSl22 steel, which adopts the alloy design concept of intermetallic compounds and carbides. The strength of these two types of steel can reach 1900 MPa, and the fracture toughness can reach 100 MPa·m1/2. This also marks a significant improvement in China’s independent innovation capabilities in the field of high-strength steel.

34. The Database Management System (DBMS)

Currently, the two most popular database management systems in the world are Oracle and MySQL, both of which are products of Oracle Corporation. Competitors include IBM and Microsoft products, among others. Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and Teradata, among several other US companies, hold the majority of the market share. Domestic database management systems also have a market share, but only a small portion, as their stability and performance is not convincing enough for the market. Enterprises with extremely strict requirements for stability, such as banks, telecommunications, and power companies, are unlikely to consider domestic products.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

For China, the development of database management systems has already become widespread and has completely broken free from limitations. Domestic companies such as Alibaba, Huawei, ZTE, Inspur, RDB, Wuhan Dameng, NUDT, and Shenzhou Tongyong all have their own database management systems.

35. Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

Scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a high-end electron-optical instrument that is widely used in various research fields and industries such as materials, biology, medicine, metallurgy, chemistry, and semiconductors. It is known as the “microscopic camera”. Currently, the SEM used in scientific research and industrial sectors in China heavily relies on imports. Of the several hundred SEMs purchased each year, most are produced by countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Domestic SEMs only account for about 5%-10%.

Latest Developments in Domestic Production

In March 2019, an article titled “Zhang Xiaolong: Breaking International Monopoly and Making ‘Made in China’ Go Global” was published in Anhui Youth Daily, reporting that Anhui Zeuolite Technology Co., Ltd. developed a desktop scanning electron microscope, breaking the international monopoly.

The End
DiskMFR Field Sales Manager - Leo

It’s Leo Zhi. He was born on August 1987. Major in Electronic Engineering & Business English, He is an Enthusiastic professional, a responsible person, and computer hardware & software literate. Proficient in NAND flash products for more than 10 years, critical thinking skills, outstanding leadership, excellent Teamwork, and interpersonal skills.  Understanding customer technical queries and issues, providing initial analysis and solutions. If you have any queries, Please feel free to let me know, Thanks

DiskMFR Free Sample Application
  • Still worried about storage product quality?
  • Current suppliers can’t provide perfect after-sales service

  • Get our free sample for testing now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eighteen − 11 =

Please let us know what you require, and you will get our reply within 24 hours.

  • Our team will answer your inquiries within 24 hours.
  • Your information will be kept strictly confidential.

Let's Have A Chat

Learn How We Served 100+ Global Device Brands with our Products & Get Free Sample!!!

Email Popup Background 2