You’ve certainly heard of silicon chips, though they might be used in more everyday items than you realize. A silicon wafer, however, may not be on your radar.
That chip in your smart device started as a much larger wafer. From there, a company uses wafer dicing services to slice them up into dies or dice. These tiny squares then become the individual chips that go into our products.
Where does a wafer come from?
A wafer is sometimes called a slice because it is literally sliced off a larger piece of silicon called an ingot. Silicon is a semiconductor, which means that it has both conducting and insulating properties. With a process called doping, these properties create the perfect environment for the electronics on a microchip.
How does a wafer become a chip?
A wafer can also be called a substrate because it serves as a silicon base for the electronics that are put on it. Once it has been carved into dice, the wafer is printed with multiple copies of the same chip. These will then be separated and inserted into many products.
What items use silicon chips?
We all know that chips are in computers and mobile phones, but they are also in your automobile, your television, your bread maker, and even your toddler’s dancing ducky. All of those items have a chip, or several, acting as a tiny brain that makes it work.
Silicon chips are also used in solar panels, washing machines, car keys, RFID tags—which can be used for everything from tracking inventory to timing marathon runners—and pretty much every modern electronic device.
When you slap on your smart watch to go jogging, sing along to your karaoke machine, or tap your ID card to get into your workplace, remember that the technology that makes it all work wouldn’t be possible without that wafer of silicone.