From testing to production, silicon wafers play an important role in today’s technology. Because they are semiconductor, these units are used as a foundation for integrated circuits in microelectronic devices. Thus, it helps power laptops, smart devices, and even calculators.
Billions, of not trillions, of these wafers have been produced over the decades. And many of them end up in the waste bin without your knowledge. Especially those used in the technology testing. Overall, quality assurance companies lose money due to the numerous wafers they need to order.
However, this shouldn’t be the case. Like the electronics themselves, silicon wafers can be reclaimed and returned to the vendor for further use. Companies like PCA do this and have perfected procedures to turn used wafers into reusable ones.
To understand better, here are five steps they take to make this happen.
1. Count and Determine Wafer Status. The wafers are carefully counted and checked for their current status. When done, the customer receives a report on the wafer conditions prior to the reclaiming process.
2. Presorting. The wafers are sorted into thickness groups and film removal. If they are multilayered wafers, a schedule is setup to strip each level.
3. Stripping and Etching. The silicon wafers are placed in a chemical bath to remove all pre-existing patterns and films.
4. Silicon Wafer Polishing. Once the cleaned wafers are examined, they are then polished with water.
Clean, Rinse, and Dry. The wafers are spun clean, rinsed off, and dried.
At this point, they are given a final review to ensure a minimal amount of surface was removed during the process. When this is approved, the silicon wafers are sorted once again, vacuum-packed, and shipped back to the customer.
Starting the Process
Testing firms that discard their wafers should consider using a reclaiming service. Not only will this assure clean testing units every time but also reduce overhead. It’s better for them, the economy, and the environment.