Semiconductors are elements that have conductivity between those of metals and non-metals. Substances like Silicon and Gallium have immense use in the electronic industry, eco-friendly technology, and arms and equipment manufacturing. Elements like Silicon and Gallium manufacture diodes and transistors that have broad applications in technology. These materials undergo a process called doping to create diodes.
Semiconductors are the foundation of next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), modern robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). Chips made up of semiconductors are extremely small and need utmost care while manufacturing.
Equipment And Processes Involved In The Manufacture Of Semiconductor Chips
Raw Material For The Industry
The primary raw materials used for manufacturing semiconductor chips are metals like silicon, lithium and gallium. Lithium has the most comprehensive industrial application among these elements. However, only a few countries in the world have proven supplies of lithium. Most of the world’s lithium exists in just three or four countries, with China having the world’s largest reserves. Apart from China, Australia and Chile also have lithium reserves.
Chemically Inert Valves And Pipelines
Manufacturing silicon chips need inert chemical conditions. Any impurity introduced during manufacturing can reduce the efficacy of the semiconductor. Teflon rods are chemically inert and do not react with most industrial chemicals except for a few strong bases. Hence setting up a semiconductor plant will require a Teflon rod supplier for supplying rods. These rods make valves that regulate fluid flow in one or more directions.
Hollow Teflon rods make pipelines through which chemicals flow as and when required in the manufacturing process.
Highly Pure Water
Semiconductor manufacturing requires large quantities of highly pure water. It is estimated that about five to fifty liters of water are required per centimeter square of silicon. Municipal water is purified using several techniques like distillation, desalination etc.
Equipment For Temperature Treatment Of Wafers
Wafers are the units that hold the semiconductor chips to form an integrated circuit, the functional unit of a semiconductor-based device. These wafers can be used to manufacture transistors or photo-voltaic diodes. Photo-voltaic diodes form the basis of the solar lights that we see around us. These diodes absorb energy from the Sun’s rays and generate electricity.
On the other hand, light-emitting diodes or LEDs, as they are popularly known, emit light when electricity flows through the semiconductor (diode). The wafers, be it for Photovoltaics or LEDs, are placed in holders, also known as boats. These are ceramic holders with grooves that hold the wafers. These holders with the silicon wafers are treated at high temperatures exceeding a thousand degrees centigrade. The cleaning of these holders is essential before being used again.
Cleaning these holders is difficult as their wafer-holding grooves are incredibly narrow. Hence, solutions known as chemical strippers are used to wash and decontaminate these holders.
As the popularity of photovoltaics and LED lights increases, the efficiency of the manufacturing process, including the stripping method, needs to be increased. So the next time you buy bulk LED strip lights, you can imagine the research that goes into its manufacturing.
Detecting Faults In Manufactured Integrated Circuits(ICs)
The fully manufactured IC needs to undergo rigorous structural and functional testing before being released on the market. Since the circuits are tiny, they need microscopes with high magnifying power to spot structural defects. (Viagra) Atomic force microscopes, AFMs and Electron Microscopes (scanning and transmission electron microscopes) can visualize in the nanometer range. A nanometer is much smaller than a millimeter, and a single strand of human hair is measured in nanometers.
The Final Testing is a cumbersome process, but once the process has been standardized, it can be outsourced. A medical device contract manufacturer outsources the manufacturing of a medical device to other companies. These companies follow the standards and specifications developed by the original manufacturer. Outsourcing has several advantages like cost saving, better compliance with norms and standards etc. Just like a wearable medical device manufacturing company can outsource its functions, so can a semiconductor manufacturing unit.Usually, the safety analysis part is highly time-consuming and costly. Hence, the safety analysis part is outsourced to other companies based on a contract.
As the applications of the semiconductor industry increase and as they grow more popular, their demand will increase. These industries will have to deliver more significant quantities and quality products shortly. Improving the semiconductor wafer design and making it smaller is crucial for technological progress. Smaller diodes reduce the size of all the electrical devices we use, be it mobile phones, televisions or laptops.
Most industrialized countries have released the importance of semiconductors in the next industrial revolution that the world is about to witness. Hence countries across the globe are pouring money and other resources to develop more efficient semiconductor design plants. Every nation wants to be the next most significant producer and exporter of efficient, cost-effective semiconductors.