What Is Lapping?


October 7, 2021

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If you’re looking for a semiconductor compound to silicon for manufacturing linear and digital integrated circuits, you should take a closer look at gallium arsenide (GaAs). However, if you want significant cost savings while maximizing the life of your wafers, GaAs reclaim wafers are your best bet. Wafer reclaim refers to used wafers that are reprocessed for different uses.

Unless these thin slices of semiconductors undergo a series of steps to eliminate unwanted substances from their surface, they won’t be restored to a usable grade. Lapping is one of the surface conditioning processes used in the reclamation of wafers.

Three gaas reclaim wafers in a row.

Answers to Common Questions About the Lapping Process

What Exactly Is It?

Lapping is a term used to describe different surface finishing operations that use loose abrasive powders as the grinding agent. This process is usually used for wafers and other products that require extremely tight tolerances of thickness, parallelism, flatness, or finish.  

How Does It Work?

Since lapping is essentially a batch loading process, multiple wafers are machined at the same time. Micron-sized abrasive particles are mixed with an oil base or water-base liquid to produce a liquid cutting tool called a slurry. Meanwhile, the wafers are captured in retaining rings while carriers hold them in place to protect the wafer edges from damage.

While the wafers are dragged across the surface of the lap plate, the abrasive is fed onto it. As the high points of the wafer surface hit the lap plate surface, unwanted materials are removed until the wafer is uniformly smooth and flat. A successfully lapped wafer has a multi-directional and non-reflective appearance or a matte finish.  

What Are the Factors to Consider?

Certain factors influence the result of the process. These include the material being processed, plate material, speed and flatness of the lap plate, pressure on the wafer, the size and type of abrasive, feed system, the vehicle used, abrasive to vehicle slurry ratio, plate temperature, and method of charging and conditioning the plate.

Close up of gaas reclaim wafers.

Looking for High-Quality GaAs Reclaim Wafers?

At Wafer World, we specialize in producing high-quality wafers at a reasonable price. Call us now to get a quote.

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