Common Causes of Damage or Failures Found in Silicon Wafer Substrates


July 10, 2020

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A silicon wafer substrate goes through several processes before it's ready to be sold to different customers worldwide. Sometimes, these processes put various stresses on the wafer, which results in damage or failures. Damages or faults found in a wafer substrate can impact its reliability and performance.  In this article, we will discuss the common causes of damages or failures found in a silicon wafer substrate.

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What are the Common Causes of Damage or Failures Found in Silicon Wafer Substrates?

Excessive Stress and Failure

The excessive stress and pressure from scribing, wire bonding, separating dies, and packaging operations can cause a silicon wafer to become brittle or crack. This type of failure or damage can affect the durability of the wafer and may render it useless.

Thermal Expansion Differences

Thermal expansion refers to the tendency of matter to expand or change its volume, shape, or area due to temperature change. So, when a substrate is subjected to heat beyond what it's capable of bearing, it can result in cracking or breaking.

Crystallographic Defects

Existing crystallographic defects, like dislocations, oxygen precipitates, and stacking faults, in both the silicon wafer and epitaxial layer, can compromise the quality of the wafer and lead to defects. These defects can cause significant, abnormal leakage currents to flow or create low-resistance pipes, which can short-circuit junctions.

Diffusion and Ion Implantation Effects

Diffusion and ion implantation effects like different anomalous diffusion phenomena linked with specific crystal or dopant defect combinations and contaminant metal precipitate reactions can affect the quality of the wafer and fail.

Gross Processing Defects

Gross processing defects refer to areas of the substrate that are poorly defined and over or under-etched by lithography.


Radiation creates current pulses that result in radiation damage or "soft errors."

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