Because silicon wafers are made in a very sturdy and with high density, it is possible to clean and reuse a silicon wafer for another purpose. While they may not have the same life span as a new wafer, there is a multitude of uses for them.
The restoration of silicon wafers involves a multi-step process where the wafer is stripped and polished back to A-grade condition. Due to the nature of the typical processes currently used, tens of micrometers of the silicon layer are lost during the polishing step. This means that after a relatively small number of reclaim cycles the test wafers become too thin to be used any longer and must be replaced by new ones. Also, while traditional reclamation techniques are certainly better than the alternative of disposing of a test wafer after a single use, the increased introduction of new materials into the semiconductor manufacturing process has made it increasingly difficult to successfully clean and re-use silicon wafers.
Because silicon wafers can be expensive to produce especially in large quantities, it is important to many companies that they be able to reuse, or purchase used silicon wafers for use in less vital areas. By using reclaimed wafers, businesses can reduce their replacement equipment costs while still using wafers that are rated to be in perfect working order.
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