With the increasing demand for memory cards, smartphones, and laptop computers, electronics applications that utilize integrated circuits (IC) are shrinking. Since the goal is to reduce thickness and footprint, these devices require ultra-flat wafers.
Semiconductor materials have electrical conductivity values that fall between a conductor and an insulator. While conductors are generally metals, insulators or nonconductors include most ceramics and glass.
Furthermore, semiconductors are typically made of pure elements like silicon or germanium. However, they can also be made of compounds, including cadmium selenide or gallium arsenide. Through the doping process, impurities are added to pure semiconductors to change the material’s conductivity.
The standard wafer is a thin slice of semiconductor material that consists of crystalline silicon. Wafers are commonly used in the electronics and technology industry to fabricate integrated circuits (IC). It’s important to note that these semiconductor materials’ sizes and dimensions may vary depending on how they are used. The ultra-flat wafer is a type of wafer designed to meet the highest conditions for particular uses. Unlike traditional standard wafers measured in inches, the ultra-flat wafer is measured in microns or micrometers (‘μm’). Specifically, a micron or micrometer is equivalent to 1/26,000th of an inch or one-millionth of a meter. Unless a wafer measures under 200 microns in terms of thickness, it couldn’t be classified as an ultra-flat wafer. Due to its unique characteristics, this substrate is produced to withstand too demanding applications.
For this reason, the ultra-flat wafer is widely used in the production of microfabrication equipment. Furthermore, in biological applications that include thin-film research, it’s also the substrate of choice. The ultra-flat wafer characteristics allow it to meet the requirements for scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), used for scanning surfaces and creating high-resolution topographic images.
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