Why are Silicon Wafers Used Semiconductor Chip Production?

university wafer substrates

Why are Microchips Made from Silicon?

A semiconductor can conduct electricity or act as an insulal or. Microchips are mostly fabricated from silicon because of its effective semi-conducting properties. Semiconductor microchips are ubiquitous in almost all electronic devices.

microchips made from silicon

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Engineers use silicon to build a circuits gates and switches. Silicon is not like copper or insulating as glass. It's in between. Silicon transistors use semiconductor wafers as on and off switches. Currently microchip have billions are transistors and growing. The switches in transisitors power electronic diveces, such as CPU, are currently the most efficient manner of calculating mathematical and logical processess.

Silicon is used in CCDs because of it's semiconducting properties.

What Silicon Quality is the Most Important for Microchips?

Silicon wafers ubiquitous use as the primary semiconductor material in microchips has one problem, “waviness!” Microchip quality and yield depends on the silicon substrates surface quality. That quality is compromised during the wire sawing (cutting), lapping, etching and polishing of the silicon wafer. That waviness issue can be measured in BOW, WARP and Total Thickness Variation (TTV). The TTV measures the average difference between the high and low points of the polished silicon surface. The closer to 0 microns that you can get the better the BOW and WARP specs. But this is almost impossible. But a silicon wafer with a 1 micron TTV can be had. UniversityWafer, Inc. carries a large inventory of 1 micron, 2 micron, 5 micron TTV wafers in stock for all your microchip fabrication needs.


Why is Silicon, and Not another Material Widely Used in Semiconductors?

The simple answer is price. Silicon is the second most abundant material on earth after Carbon.

Eventually other materials, will have to be used to get faster computers and smaller components etc. But these other materials are far more expensive to procure and tooling is limited. One 100mm Silicon Wafer Prime Grade in large quantities can be sold for around $10.00 each or less. Silicon Carbide, a much stronger material is very difficult to work with and, currently, costs 30x as much as the same sized silicon wafer!

But you will most likely see more expensive electronics that can do more in the next ten years, but you will pay a premium over silicon.

This may create a socials problem as wealthier people would be able to afford a $10,000.00 laptop while the rest will have to make do with handheld devices.

What the outcome will be is beyond the scope of this web site. But it will be interesting to watch.

standard silicon wafer cassette and carrier