Top Things You Should know About Silicon Wafers

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What Top Things You Should Know about Silicon Wafers?

Did you know silicon wafers are the ultimate in semiconductor manufacturing? They’re not only extremely conductive, but incredibly affordable as well. This is why practically every single modern day electronic device utilizes them. Your silicon wafer can go through many different microfabrication processes depending on their use case. Although you may use silicon wafers in your everyday life, there are still a lot of facts some may be unsure of or misunderstand when it comes to the various properties of Si wafers. You shouldn’t go into research or experimentation without getting accurate and precise facts first. If you’re unsure of anything contact experts such as UniversityWafer, Inc. to make sure your wafer handling is safe and secure.

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Is Silicon Conductive?

Silicon substrates can be conductive if doped with impurities like boron or phosphorus, silicon can become a good conductor of electricity.

Silicon Wafers Were Studied Over 70 Years Ago

In the 1950s the Egyptian-American engineer Mohamed Atalla coated a silicon wafer with a layer of SiO2. This allowed electricity to permeate to the conductive silicon layer and is known today as surface passivation. This further allowed for silicon integrated circuits to be mass-produced and is still used to this day. In 1954 Atalla announced the first silicon transistor available commercially.

Silicon is Everywhere

Silicon is a crystalline that’s incredibly brittle but also quite solid. It’s also the 2nd most common element on Earth, just preceding Oxygen. SiO2 is the most common compound in the crust of the Earth. Silicon is also the 7th most found element in the entire universe. Don’t confuse it for silicone which is synthetic and not conductive. More than 10million square inches of silicon materials were shipped in 2015 alone!

Silicon Has a Metalloid Classification

Although shiny and gray in its purest state, silicon may look like a metal but it actually has a metalloid classification. This means it has typical properties of both nonmetals and metals, but not predominantly one or the other (the framework varies between metalloids). This makes it conductive only under certain conditions which makes Si and other metalloids well suited for industry manufacturing.

Silicon Wafers Must Be Pure

For silicon to be used for electronics it needs to have (at least) a purity of 99.9999999%. The first material used to make silicon wafers for semiconductors and solar cells is top-quality and pure sand. Sand has a high abundance of silicon and only the purest form of it, typically shipped from Australia, is used in silicon wafer production.

Czochralski is Key to Silicon Wafers

In 1916 Jan Czochralski demonstrated a metal crystallization method of varying rates. Because silicon wafers have to be incredibly pure and defect-free the only process to accurately achieve this is the Czochralski method. When melted at 1,425 °C boron or phosphorus can be added to the silicon to dope it. This will create a semiconductor of either an n-type or p-type. The process can create ingots of 1 and 2 metres long with diameters up to 400mm.

Amount Sometimes Matters

Most silicon wafer suppliers can quickly calculate the cost of the wafers you need. However due to their fragility and complex manufacturing process, they will often only allow you to buy wafers in bulk. Websites like University Wafer are one of the few that allows speedy ordering of silicon wafers in any amount, not just bulk orders.

Silicon Wafers Can Be Cleaned

Sometimes Si wafers may have unwanted particles on them, or can be damaged upon arrival or with improper handling. Polishing with a weak acid can clean wafers without damaging the silicon or substrates. When being used for solar cells, wafers have to be etched. This process can either be done in a chemical bath (wet) or a vacuum (dry) and it creates a textured surface on the wafer to increase conductivity and efficiency. It’s often done with a combination of different chemicals in a highly controlled environment.

Not the Only Team Player, Other Materials are Catching up to Silicon Wafers

III-V and II-VI materials can also be used for electronic wafers despite silicon ranking supreme for the process. GaAs, also known as gallium arsenide is another semiconductor that also utilizes the Czochralski process for production. Although also conductive Gallium wafers are more commonly used in microwave integrated circuits.

Silicon Wafer Size Doesn’t Matter

Silicon wafers will vary in thickness and size. This mechanical strength of the equipment used to make the wafer will always determine it’s thickness. If the silicon wafer is not thick enough it can crack during handling, so the semiconductor must also be made to support its thickness.

Keep Your Silicon Wafers Stored

Without proper storage conditions Silicon Wafers can degrade or even become contaminated. The recommended storage method for wafers is to have them vacuum sealed. If this isn’t doable, Si Wafers have to be placed in an N2 cabinet with a 2 to 6 Standard Cubic Feet per Hour flow rate.

Is Silicon a Conductor?

Pure silicon is a semiconductor and has properties halfway between insulators and conductors. Under certain conditions, it can conduct electricity, but behave like an insulator, due to its low energy band gap. A semiconductor has a band gap of about 1/4-3 eV at absolute zero, meaning electrons in the valence band do not have enough energy to jump to the conduction band. At elevated temperatures, pure silicon behaves like a conductor.

Extrinsic silicon

An extrinsic silicon conductor undergoes a series of phases when heated. Each phase is dependent on the dopants present in the material. During the Freeze-Out Region, the free electrons cannot move, while the donor electrons can move when the temperature rises. However, ionized impurities can scatter electrons and lower the mobility.

An extrinsic semiconductor is silicon that contains atoms of other elements in the structure. These impurities are called dopants and are added to the intrinsic semiconductor in controlled amounts. In most cases, these dopants are n-type and contain electrons while holes are present in small amounts.

In order to increase the electrical conductivity, an extrinsic semiconductor is doped. Doping increases the number of holes and free electrons in a semiconductor crystal. Pentavalent impurities have five valence electrons, while trivalent impurities have three. In addition, one atom of a certain material can be added to an extrinsic semiconductor to increase its electrical conductivity.

Extrinsic semiconductors can be divided into two types: N-type and p-type semiconductors. Intrinsic semiconductors are the result of group IV elements that combine to form semiconductors. N-type semiconductors are created by doping tetravalent elements with pentavalent elements. This allows a single pentavalent atom to replace four valent elements in a crystal lattice.

The band gap between the conduction band and the valence band is small and the energy gap is large. The presence of the fermi level in an extrinsic semiconductor depends on the amount of doping and the temperature.

N-type doping

The process of N-type doping in silicon produces an abundance of carrier electrons. When silicon atoms are doped with impurities, such as phosphorus, they have an extra electron. This extra electron is attracted to the "+" electrode and moves current through the semiconductor.

Various dopants are used in silicon and are used to make a semiconductor device. These dopants differ mainly in their ease of diffusion in bulk Si. Typically, dopants further down the periodic table diffuse more slowly. When a device is heated, the dopants diffuse out and are removed.

The additional electron is weakly bound to an atom and can be excited to enter the conduction band. At normal temperatures, almost all extra electrons are in the conduction band. The resulting charge imbalance between the electrons and holes is called the carrier concentration imbalance in each band. In an n-type semiconductor, electrons are the majority of the charge carriers, while holes are the minority carriers.

N-type doping in silicon can be applied to silicon to improve device performance and reliability. In some cases, the dopants may even provide a better solution to the short-channel effect.

Band gap

Band gap in silicon refers to the gap between the electronic states of two atoms in a semiconductor. The band gap in silicon increases as the x-factor increases in silicon suboxides. It increases by approximately a factor of four when the x-factor reaches about 1.55 eV.

This energy gap is needed for the electrons to jump from a valence band to a conduction band. In order to do this, the electrons must be given a boost of energy known as "band gap." The extra energy can be obtained by absorbing photons or phonons. However, photons with less energy than the band gap will not separate the electrons. Instead, they will pass through the solar cell.

The band gap can be controlled by varying the composition of a semiconductor. For example, the composition of GaAs or InGaAs can be changed to achieve a specific band gap. This can help create solar cells, laser diodes, and heterojunction bipolar transistors. This process is known as band-gap engineering.

The band gap in silicon is 3.4 eV. However, this is an indirect band gap, which means that only high-energy photons can be absorbed. This means that solar cells with a direct band gap will be inefficient in capturing energy from low-energy photons. A small gap, however, will allow low-energy photons to be absorbed. This is important because over 90% of solar energy falls into the visible and infrared spectra.

Crystalline faults

Crystalline faults in silicon can occur in many different ways. Stacking faults, for instance, occur when atoms on different layers are stacked in front of each other. This can cause an energy barrier in the band structure, which affects the transport of current in semiconductor devices. Stacking faults are also known as stacking defects.

These defects may be either localized or distributed in the crystal. Crystalline faults can be caused by the presence of a foreign atom. The presence of a defect can affect the carrier recombination and diffusion rates. Moreover, the presence of a defect can cause the formation of aggregates in the device.

Several types of defects have been identified, including buckling, flaking, and lamination. These types of defects can be categorized according to their geometry. Zero-dimensional defects are known as 'point' defects, while one and two-dimensional defects are known as 'line' defects. In addition, three-dimensional defects are called 'volume' defects.

Crystalline defects in silicon can affect the yield of semiconductor devices. As semiconductor technology has evolved, semiconductor manufacturers must develop techniques that minimize the occurrence of these defects. Understanding the mechanisms and physics of these defects is important for the development of new devices. Crystalline defects affect the performance of semiconductor devices, as well as the reliability of the materials.

Crystalline faults are often caused by ion transport through the crystal. In some cases, these defects are caused by the movement of surface atoms into the interstitial site.


The effect of phosphorus on the conductivity of silicon is quite dramatic. Because phosphorus contributes an extra electron to silicon's electron pool, the extra electron is converted into a conduction electron, increasing the overall conductivity of silicon. At room temperature, there is one conduction electron for every 10 trillion silicon atoms. This means that even a minute amount of phosphorus can greatly increase the conductivity of silicon.

The main difference between n-type and p-type silicon is the electron configuration of the silicon atoms. The n-type is characterized by silicon that has been doped with phosphorus. Phosphorus is a Group V atom that has five valence electrons. This configuration enables it to attract a free electron from the "+" electrode, which in turn moves the current.

In p-type silicon, copper contamination can cause light-induced degradation (LID). Phosphorus is a conductor, and it can be transferred to a phosphorus-doped surface during device fabrication. Phosphorus gettering is another mechanism that causes Cu-LID.

The self-assembled molecular monolayer doping method has the advantage of producing ultra-shallow junctions while introducing very low levels of defects. Low-temperature Hall measurements and deep-level transient spectroscopy have been used to detect the formation of carbon-related defects. Another important advantage of this method is that it uses nitrogen-free macromolecules to ionize phosphorus dopants. The phosphorus dopants are driven into the silicon substrate via rapid thermal annealing, resulting in a dramatic decrease in sheet resistance.


Germanium is a metal that is used in electronics. It is a primary semiconductor. It is used in the production of transistors, photocells, and components for electronic devices. It is also a useful material in the production of fibre optic cables. However, this metal has very few uses in the chemical industry.

Germanium is not an ideal conductor of electricity. Due to its hardness, it is not a good conductor. It is also relatively brittle, which makes it a poor electrical conductor. Nevertheless, many of the electronics today are made of this material. It is used in guitar amplifiers and camera lenses.

When Dmitri Mendeleev first predicted the existence of germanium in 1869, he was unaware of the material. He had just compiled the periodic table. He noticed that it had prominent gaps. He expected that these gaps represented elements that were yet to be discovered. He predicted these elements with the prefix eka, which means "one" in Sanskrit.

Germanium is a hard and brittle metal. Because of its brittleness, it is susceptible to oxidation. Its electrical properties are similar to those of silicon. It does not react with air at room temperature, but it does react quickly with halogens to form tetrahalides. Germanium can also be attacked by concentrated acids. Hydrochloric acid and aqua regia can dissolve germanium.