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HQ 950615

January 22,1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 950615 JGH


TARIFF NO.: 3206.50.000

John M. Peterson, Esq.
Neville, Peterson & Williams
39 Broadway
New York, New York 10006

RE: Classification of electronically doped zinc sulfides, products of Japan, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

Dear Sir:

Your letters of August 8 and 22, 1991, concerns the tariff status under the HTSUS of certain electronically doped zinc sulfide products used in coatings for cathode ray tube screens, paints or other types of coatings.


The zinc sulfide is said to be doped for electronic uses with minute quantities of copper and aluminum, silver or copper/gold/aluminum, and is over 99.99 percent by weight of zinc sulfide, with the added "dopants" being less than 0.5 percent by weight. The addition of the "dopants", along with the fluxing and firing processes, activates the zinc sulfide, promoting the use of the product for electronic purposes; specifically for the production of phosphor chemicals which are used in the manufacture of cathode ray tubes for color television receivers.

The ingredients are said to have been fluxed and fired prior to importation at temperatures between 900-1100 degrees Centigrade. The firing process is said to impart some luminescent capabilities to the product, and provides for the broadest possible dispersion of the"dopants" throughout the mass.

After importation the product is said to have to be washed with solvents and coated with silicon, which assists in the application of the phosphors to the cathode ray tubes; they are also milled, filtered, dried and sieved. The post importation processing is essential, it is claimed, by removing the radiation blocking chemicals and applying the fixative coating, all in an attempt to enhance the luminescing ability of the imported materials.

Samples of silver doped-zinc sulfide, copper/aluminum doped- zinc sulfide, and copper/gold/aluminum doped-zinc sulfide examined by a Customs laboratory were described as dedicated to use as luminophores.


Whether the doped zinc sulfides are classifiable under the provision for inorganic products of a kind used as luminophores, in subheading 3206.50.00, HTSUS, or chemical compounds doped for use in electronics in subheading 3818.00.00, HTSUS.


It is argued that as imported, the electronically doped zinc sulfides have luminescent properties which are too undeveloped and short lived to be commercially useful. It is admitted that the products have been fluxed and fired, and will luminesce when exposed to directed radiation; it is further claimed that they must undergo further processing after importation before they can be used as a phosphor. Furthermore, as imported the product is said not to be commercially fit for use as "luminophores" in coloring paints, plastics, or paper because of the agglomeration of the particles. Thus, since it is not a finished product, it is not classifiable as a luminophore within the meaning of subheading 3206.50.000, HTSUS. Rather, it is urged that the products are chemical compounds which have been doped for use in electronics in subheading 3818.00.00, HTSUS.

The Explanatory Notes, which provide an explanation of the various tariff provisions on the international level, state in regard to Heading 3206, that inorganic products of a kind used as luminophores are products which, under the action of visible or invisible radiations, produce a luminescent effect. It goes on to state that most of these products consist of metal salts activated by the presence in very small quantities of "activating" products such as silver, copper or manganese; for example, zinc sulfide activated by silver or copper, zinc sulfate activiated by copper, etc.

The Explanataory Notes to subheading 3818.00.00, HTSUS, note that the provision covers chemical elements doped with additives, which are in the form of discs, wafers, or similar forms; also covered are chemical compounds containing certain additives "with a view to their use in electronics, whether in the form of cylinders, rods, etc., or cut into discs, wafers or similar forms."

Subheading 3206.50.00, HTSUS, applies to inorganic products of a kind used as luminophores. This classification is objected to, for while it is acknowledged that the imports are activated and would luminesce, it is asserted that they can not be used for their ultimate use as a coating without further processing. While it is true that they have to be further processed to fit a particular end use, the fact remains that as imported they are inorganic chemicals, which, because of the fact that they have been doped, fluxed and fired, have been activated, and, thus, are of a kind used as luminophores; and in the language of the Explanatory Notes are, in fact, inorganic products which under the the action of visible or invisible radiations produce a luminescent effect. It is not the ultimate end use which makes these inorganic products of a kind used as luminophores but, rather, the processing undergone prior to importation.


Electronically-doped zinc sulfides, which have been fluxed and fired and possess luminescent properties, are classifiable under the provision for inorganic products of a kind used as luminophores in subheading 3206.50.00, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director

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