Science and Innovation

How Silicon Wafers Are Made

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Silicon is one of the most common substances on earth and used for many purposes. Silicon wafers are used specifically as a semiconductor material for electronics. The process for creating silicon wafers is not too complex, but it involves several steps employed by highly skilled technicians and sensitive equipment. The end product has to be securely packaged to avoid contamination.

Creating the Material

The silicon is formed in a lab setting to ensure it is nearly 100 percent pure. It grows in the form of one crystal. Specific chemicals are added, such as boron, which boosts the crystal semiconductor capabilities. It is called the Czochralski process. It is named after the Polish chemist that developed the process.

Cutting and Polishing

Cutting of the resulting crystal is critical to performance. Silicon forms in a diamond-like crystal formation. When cut, it is aligned to the crystal orientation to maximize semiconductor qualities. These wafers are then polished to remove any roughness from the cutting process. An expert silicon wafer manufacturer can complete thousands of these in one day.

Cleaning and Inspecting

All wafers then undergo a specialized cleaning process. Each is inspected to ensure there are no leftover particles. Each must be cut correctly, polished, clean, and particulate-free. Wafers are made using substances other than silicon, which is why the manufacturer is careful to keep the varieties separate.

Vacuum Packing and Shipping

Vacuum packing is a necessity with silicon wafers when shipping out from the facility. It is an item that is used for sensitive electronics and must maintain complete integrity. Any source of contamination can render the product useless. Most shipments are sent out on overnight shipping runs for quick delivery.

Finding a source of high-quality silicon wafers begins with understanding the process of how it is made. In this way, you know what questions to ask that will lead to the best sources available.