Tale of a silicon wafer

Almost everyone of us use products that silicon wafers have made possible on a daily basis: smartphones and other portable devices, automotive electronics, and medical devices. It is almost impossible to imagine our lives without devices and components built on silicon wafers – the benefits of silicon are so undeniable.

Manufacturing of silicon wafers requires advanced expertise

Okmetic, as the world’s seventh largest silicon wafer manufacturer, is one of the few companies supplying silicon wafers. This can be seen as occasional peaks in demand. At the moment, for example, a shortage of microchips has pushed silicon wafer manufacturers into a situation where there is more demand than can be delivered.

The overall growth of the semiconductor sector is driven by, among other things, an increase in consumer and automotive electronics, solutions related to improving power supply and 5G.

Properties of silicon wafers are determined at the manufacturing stage. Solutions made possible by Okmetic’s advanced technology will improve, for example, the energy efficiency of electronic devices and development of self-driving cars. Also worth mentioning is Okmetic silicon’s trip to Mars: Mars research utilizes our silicon wafers as a high-tech platform.

Silicon wafer manufacturing process includes many steps

The start from a silicon crush

The raw material is polysilicon, which is refined from quartz sand by removing 99.999999999% of other elements present.

Manufacturing process starts with crystal growing

Crystal growing, which is one of Okmetic’s core areas of expertise, involves growing a cylindrical single crystal out of a seed crystal of melted polysilicon.

The crystal is cut into wafers

The finished crystal is cut, polished and sawn into wafers according to the customer’s specifications.

Significant part of the process takes place in the clean room

The strength, thickness and surface uniformity of each wafer is ensured by mechanical and chemical processing. Big part of the process takes place in the clean room, since the most important quality criterion is cleanliness.

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After packaging the wafers are sent to the customers

The processing of silicon wafers often involve various further processing steps. Finally, the wafers are inspected, packaged, and delivered to the customer as a raw material for the manufacture of MEMS, sensors, RF devices, or power devices.

Several technologies are built on silicon

Okmetic’s customers manufacture their devices onto or inside our silicon wafers by mechanical and chemical methods. After testing, the wafers are cut into pieces, and a single wafer can be turned into hundreds or even tens of thousands of devices. The finished devices are packaged ready to be installed into modules or end-products.

Thanks to silicon wafers, for example, smartphones have several microphones and accelerators that help the image rotate with the phone, and gyroscopes in cars help direct the lights correctly. Silicon wafers also provide a platform for acoustic filters, which enable faster data transfer required by wireless networks and 5G.