Wafer manufacturing is a little known and even less understood process that most people don’t realize has a major role to play in our everyday lives. Semiconductor wafers have allowed or most used technological devices to get smaller and more efficient, without them, we might still be walking around with three-pound phones in briefcases. But what are they? Which materials do we use? Why even use wafers in the first place? These are questions that few of us know the answer to and fewer have thought to ask. As experts in wafer manufacturing, Wafer World is here to give you some insight into this important aspect of our technological infrastructure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_3LUp6IRAA&feature=youtu.be
The answer to this question lies in the name ‘semiconductor.’ Simply put, semiconductors are materials that have a level of conductivity somewhere between conductors and insulators. While conductors tend to be metals and insulators are materials like ceramics, pure elements such as germanium, silicon, or compounds like gallium arsenide are used to make semiconductors in wafer manufacturing.
Semiconductors are everywhere. These devices facilitate the manufacturing of integrated circuits and therefore transistors, microchips, solar cells, and LED displays. This means that much of the technology you rely on is made possible through the use of semiconductors. You’ll find them in:
Integrated circuits are small chips that use semiconductor wafers to amplify, oscillate, and time small electronic currents. These tiny devices can store a large amount of data for their size and even perform calculations. The attributes of integrated circuits have allowed many types of technology to become smaller and function more efficiently.
Wafers are thinly sliced chips made from the purified crystals of semiconductors. They are used in electronics because they can be cut small enough to use in even the tiniest of electronic equipment and their purity allows electrical current to travel between circuits without interference.
Silicon is by far the most common material used in wafer manufacturing and for good reason. Although silicon is not necessarily the most conductive material, it is effective in its task, and it is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. This combination of factors makes silicon a cost-effective material for mass wafer manufacturing. Silicon crystal undergoes a series of purification processes before the crystals are sliced into wafers. The purer the final product, the more effective it is as a semiconductor. https://youtu.be/ctq_f03KPYU
FZ stands for Float Zone, which refers to the manufacturing process used for these wafers. These are also silicon wafers but the silicon crystals are grown using an alternative process that uses an artificial vacuum and multiple-zone refining which helps create a product with a higher level of purity. Once the crystal is grown, the slicing process is the same as with traditional wafer manufacturing processes for silicon.
GaAs stands for gallium arsenide which is perhaps the second most common material used in semiconductor wafer manufacturing. Gallium specifically, is able to effortlessly bond with most Earth metals, which makes it a useful component in producing low melting alloys. GaAs wafers have the ability to create laser light from an electric current without the need for additional components. Although more difficult to manufacture and more expensive than silicon wafers, GaAs wafers have experienced an increase in popularity due to the advantages of the material which include:
Prince still makes GaAs a little more restrictive for some companies in wafer manufacturing, but advances in the process are making this material more feasible to use.
InP stands for indium phosphide which is a highly effective binary semiconductor. This material allows for a much higher electron velocity than other types of semiconductors, meaning electric currents can travel through it more efficiently. For this reason, InP wafer manufacturing is especially popular in high-frequency and high-powered electronic devices such as optical fiber connections and components used in large data centers.
Although the wafer manufacturing process is different for each material, they all undergo similar cleaning and testing processes.
Doping is the process of adding a substance that increases conductivity. This is a necessary step as without it, semiconductors would not transfer electric currents at the rate they would need to make devices function effectively.
Although not all wafers are made the same way or cut to the same size, they are made from a single crystal of a particular material. Depending on the use, the elements are sliced to fit their intended purpose, this slicing allows the semiconductors to fit as part of an integrated circuit.
The cleaning process is one of the most important aspects of wafer manufacturing. These semiconductors serve as the traffic center of tiny electronic currents that can be interrupted or diverted by even the smallest of particulates, imperfections, or other contaminants. For this reason, wafer manufacturers use specialized clean rooms and wear ultra-clean lab equipment to prevent any form of contamination.
Once the wafers are sliced and cleaned, they need to be tested to ensure they will serve the intended purpose, this is done using specialized equipment that presents several challenges to the wafer manufacturing process. During the extensive testing procedure, wafers are exposed to high temperatures and varying degrees of electronic currents that simulate real-life stresses. Those that pass can be used in electronics, those that fail are disposed of.
You’re already in the right place! Wafer World is an industry leader in semiconductor wafer manufacturing. With us, not only will you find one of the largest catalogs of wafers anywhere on the market, but we also equip you with the knowledge and background in the industry to help you make the best decision. Get in touch with our team today to learn more or request a quote!