Silicon is the second most abundant element on earth, behind only oxygen. It is found in rocks, sand, clays, and soils, combined with either oxygen as silicon dioxide, or with oxygen and other elements as silicates. Because it is so abundant, it is the most common thing used in wafers. Let’s take a look at silicon wafer processing and the steps that go into making it.
Raw materials are weighed and placed in a furnace. From there, the materials are then melted, which results in the reaction of sand with carbon to form silicon and carbon monoxide. This process typically takes six to eight hours. While in this molten state, the material is treated with oxygen and air to reduce the amount of calcium and aluminum impurities. This gets the silicon to its pure state.
After the reduction process, the oxidized material is then cooled in large cast iron trays. After cooling, the metal is dumped from the mold into a truck, weighed and then dumped in the storage pile. Dumping the metal from the mold to the truck breaks it up sufficiently for storage. Before it goes out, the metal is sized according to customer specifications.
Silicon metal is usually packaged in large sacks or wooden boxes. In powder form, silicon is typically packaged in 50-lb plastic pails or paper bags.
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