How Silicon Wafers Are Made?

university wafer substrates

What is Silicon Wafer Made Of?

Semiconductors are most commonly fabricated with Silicon, which is the second most abundant material on earth at 30%. Pristine beach sand from certain beaches in Australia and Italy are used in the first process of growing a silicon ingots that will become wafers which then are turned into chips.

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How are Silicon Wafers Made?

Silicon is the second most abundant material on earth after carbon. Silicon makes up 27.8% of the earth's crust. Silicon abundancy makes it much less-expensive than other materials such as Germanium. Silicon is also very versatile. Silicon is mined from beach sand found on several pristine beaches. While growing the ingot, dopants can be added to control electricity in the finished product, usually a semiconductor.

Manufacturing of Silicon Wafer

Silicon wafers are grown using two methods. The most common method of growing single crystal silicon is the Czochralski (CZ) method. A more expensive and less common ingot growth method is the Float Zone (FZ) method. The silicon seed is grown in a long tube called a crucible..

Single Crystal Silicon Pulling

The Silicon Ingots are grown by placing Polycrystalline Silicon Chunks into a quartz crucible. Dopants such as Boron, Arsenic, Antimony and Phosphorous are added. This gives the ingot a N-type, P-type or undoped specification.

The crucible is heated to 2552 deg Fahrenheit in high purity Argon gas ambient. Once the chunk melts, a single crystal silicon seed is placed into the melting chunk and pulled out at a slow rate. Using the surface tension, and slow pull rate forms a circular monocrystalline ingot with the same silicon orientation with the seed.


The finished monocrystalline ingot is machined to have either a flat or notch along the entire length of the ingot to give the respective orientation which can be but not limited to (100), (111), (110).

Silicon Ingot Slicing

Using a diamond saw, the silicon ingot is sliced into certain thicknesses.

Silicon Wafer Edge grinding

To increase a silicon ingot's yied, the edges of the sliced wafers are diced.

Silicon Wafer Lapping

After slicing, the silicon wafers surface are rough to the touch from the sawing. The silicon lapping process removes the suface defects.

Silicon Etching and cleaning

Below are some of the acids used to fix the microscopic cracks and surface damage.

  • sodium hydroxide
  • acetic
  • nitric acids

Then deionized water is used to rinse the etched silicon wafers.

Silicon Wafer Polishing

Polishing requires a number of steps.

Slurry is used in finer and finer grains to make polished sides as flat as possible. The tighter the specs, the more the substrates cost as the equipment used is more expensive and the process requires more time.



Steps to Make Silicon Wafers

When we talk about what is silicon wafer made of, we are talking about the thin membrane that is used to hold the wafer intact until the time it's used in electronics. The silicon, or glass, is very pure. When device production is first started, the silicon contains a normal impurity level of less than one percent. To improve upon the performance of the silicon, the industry uses what is called the substrate.

Silicon substrate is what gives the wafer its thin and smooth surface. In order to create the wafer top layer, the silicon must be placed onto a quartz or silica compound, mixed with dyes in order to give the wafer the color that is desired. After the coating of the silicon is dry, the silicon is passed on to the next stage of production, which is what causes the silicon to become a solid.

This is how the silicon wafer suppliers go about making the devices that we use every day. The silicon is mixed with sand, usually sodium silicate sand. When this mixture is heated it becomes molten, which causes the silica to solidify. This makes a solid layer of sand around the silicon, which is known as the substrate. This solid layer also traps some of the heat that comes from the device, which allows the device to function better.

There are many different ways that the substrate is applied to the wafer sort. It is typically applied with a spatula-like instrument. When this is done properly, the tool will make sure to distribute the pressure equally across the surface of the wafer sort. If there is any excess pressure, it is released from the tool as the heat of the procedure itself cools off. Once the pressure is evenly distributed, it is removed and the wafer sort is turned over so that it can be viewed.

Silicon wafer sheets that have gone through this process have a two layers of silica on them. The first layer is called the oxidation layer. This layer provides protection to the silicon dioxide. When the silicon dioxide comes into contact with any impurities, such as water or moisture, it bonds with those impurities and forms the oxide layer. This layer serves to prevent moisture from penetrating into the wafer, but it also limits the amount of the oxide that forms.

Silicon oxide is actually a silicate relative. This silicate relative has the same crystal growth behavior as pure silica, but without the ability to form oxide layers upon itself. If moisture is present on the wafer surface, then crystalline growth will occur. It is this crystalline growth that produces the desirable pattern on the wafer surface. On a smooth and flat silicon wafer surface, a monochrome pattern results.

On the other hand, when there is some humidity present on the silicon wafer, monochromatic doped wafer cutters can be used to produce the pattern in which the desired pattern occurs. The doped silicon wafers are produced with one side of the wafer having a single layer of pure silicon and the other side of the wafer having a layer of doped silicon. When moisture is present on the single sided wafer, the doped silicon lets the moisture pass through the solid silica while preventing the moisture to enter the single sided wafer. This is a great benefit in that the single sided wafer cuts more smoothly than the doped wafer.

Most silicon wafer suppliers sell both types of wafers; the single and the double sided wafers. Many times, it is necessary to find a supplier that offers both types of wafers so that you can get the most options available to you. Some suppliers offer the single sided wafer, but they also offer the double sided wafer. Because they know the demand for both types of wafers, they will often offer the two wafers to their customers. Whether you need single or double sided waffles, you should be able to find a supplier that offers them by searching on the Internet. The good news is that many of the suppliers that offer the silicon dioxide wafer are also able to provide the sand wafers as well.

How do they make Silicon Wafers and Computer Chips?

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Can You Make Electronic Processors From Silica Sand?

Silicon processors are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, containing billions of tiny transistors. The entire process starts with a silicon wafer (Si) and ends with a fully functioning processor. Both of these products can trace their roots back to sand, specifically silica sand. Silicon dioxide is found in ninety percent of silica sand, but ordinary sand only contains about 80% of that material. This is not nearly enough for semiconductor manufacturers to make wafers.

from sand to silicon how to make a computer chip

Metallurgical Grade Silicon

Metallurgical grade silicon is 99% pure. It is also called ultrapure silicon and is used extensively in the metallurgical industry. The process of making metallurgical grade silicon involves melting a rod of metallurgical grade silicon and then moving the heater down the length of the rod while keeping a small length of the rod molten. The impurities tend to remain at the molten end, while the crystalline parts of the rod move to the end that last melted. The process is repeated until the desired purity is reached.

During the conversion process, a quartz tube is charged with chunks of metallurgical grade silicon or a mixture of silica and high purity quartz sand. The chamber is evacuated and heated to a temperature of approximately 800°C to 1400°C. A stream of gas comprising the reactant is continuously delivered through the charge. The silane-containing silicon reacts with hydrogen to produce solid silicon.

Metallurgical grade silicon is easily produced on large scales. Electronic grade silicon, also known as semiconductor-grade silicon, requires extra purification steps. The main requirement for EGS is low metal and impurity levels. Table 7.10.1 and Table 7.10.2 provide typical impurity concentrations in MGS and EGS. There are many reasons why the latter is better for electronic processors. This article discusses two common reasons why metallurgical grade silicon is a better choice.

Metallurgical grade silicon is highly pure and is used in the metallurgical industry. While it is considered sufficient for making electronic processors, it must undergo further purification to be suitable for use in electronic devices. The result of this process is electronic-grade silicon, which can be used in cheaper devices. If the quality is satisfactory, it may be used in integrated circuit fabrication. Its low cost makes it an attractive option for electronic processors.

Metallurgical grade silicon has a low purity. Metallurgical grade silicon, on the other hand, is too impure for use in electronic devices. The impurities affect carrier mobility, reliability, and other aspects of a microelectronic device. Therefore, it must be purified further to produce electronic-grade silicon. Then, it is used in subsequent fabrication steps. So, when using this silicon for electronic processors, it is important to follow these guidelines.


MG-Si is 99% pure silicon. It is used in electronic processors. However, it is not completely pure. Chemical contaminants can be a problem. Some of these include heavy metals, alkali metals, magnesium, calcium, chlorine, sulfur, fluorine, carbon, and aluminum. Fortunately, there are several ways to clean up silicon. Here are some of the most common.

Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth's crust. It accounts for 26% of the earth's surface, behind oxygen, which makes it the most common element. However, silicon does not occur naturally in the pure form needed in electronic applications. In order to be pure, silicon must contain less than one atom of non-silicon material. Silicon is extracted from silica sand, a naturally occurring substance found in nearly all types of sand and clay. It contains about 95% quartz.

The growth of these clusters can be attributed to the presence of vacancies. However, the role of vacancies in MG-Si is still unclear. In the case of Al-Mg-Si-Cu alloys, the formation of vacancies is the main cause of cluster formation. During the early aging phase, the vacancies in the clusters result in small clusters that merge and grow.

While silicon crystals are produced in 300-mm diameter cylinders, research is nearing 450 mm. The larger these crystals are, the more speed they can achieve. However, these crystals can also become less plentiful and harder to work with. Eventually, silicon will be too expensive to make them. So, MG-Si can be used to make electronic processors.


HG-Si is an important substance in making electronic processors. In addition to making electronic components, this material is also used for semiconductor fabrication. In fact, this substance is used to make a number of other devices and products. Silicon is a common material used in many types of electronics, from computer chips to cell phones. The following article will explore the potential uses for HG-Si in electronic processors.


The semiconductor technology that is based on the HM-Si material can be used to produce electronic processors. HM-Si is made up of two layers: the middle layer and the hardmask layer. The middle layer has a high silicon content and is used to provide etch selectivity. The spin-on-Si process enables a multilayer stack to be developed in an integrated track, reducing the complexity of the wafer transfer. The process normally involves a low-temperature 250-degree ambient air environment.

Video: From Silica to Sand - Making a Computer Chip