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The Role Of Semi-conductor Wafers In The Electronic And Computer Industry

By: Brian Cheung Home | Shopping-and-Products

Everyday you look and see all these high tech computerized electronic gadgets that basically run the world. From Supercomputers to high end computerized vehicles to a simple chip inserted in your dog; Lately, there the emergence of robots which can do almost anything.

But it’s all a big puzzle to you because you don't have a clue how these integrated systems work to ultimately make the whole unit a success. Want to find out how these highly efficient systems work? Well, here is your article.

We will start with one very critical building block of the whole electronic and computer industry.


Simply, semiconductor wafers are thin sliced (wafer like in shape) materials that are electric semiconductors. A good example is crystalline silicon or gallium arseniside. They are especially used for the fabrication of integrated circuits. They have intrinsic electrical characteristics but what makes them different from pure conductors is that they are of high resistance. Higher than most resistance materials but lower than most insulators.

Without these semiconducting elements, the wheels of the electronic and computer industry would come to a stop.

So here is why these wafers are important.


Most semi conducting materials are used in computers so, let us look at their importance in computers.

1. Before the advent of digital computers, Analogue computers reigned. Most of these computers had vacuum tubes instead of silicon semiconductors. One huge problem with the vacuum tubes is that they would leak. Also, sorne metals which were used to transmit electrons within them would often burn out. Semiconductor wafers don't suffer these problems. The way these materials conduct electrons is completely different from the way metals conduct electrons meaning, unlike previous glass vacuum tubes, these wafers will never burn out. Also, vacuum tubes had the problem of requiring a lot of time to warm up before the whole system could be used. Semiconductors don't have this problem as they don't need too much time to warm up. Another obvious advantage of semiconductor wafers is that they needed less space as compared to vacuum tubes which were huge.

2. The first semiconductor based circuit was made in 1959.Think about it; Where would we be without that first semiconductor circuit? In the stone age period as far as technology is concerned. From the mobile phone you use, your laptop, computers and all forms of digital technology. All these devices have in some way or another, something to do with a silicon semiconductor circuit. Since the flow of current in semiconductors can be controlled, the ability to create diodes e.g. in LED’s, transistors (all microprocessors are made up of numerous transistors mostly on one single silicon chipi, and even amplifiers are made possible. Small, high speed, lightweight and low power devices would not be possible without chips made of these circuits. What a dark world that would be.

3. Semiconductors are not rigid materials and can be changed to suit the needs of specific end users. What this means in essence is that they can morph and fit into any kind of electronic and computerized device. This is crucially seen in one of their many properties which is the ability to pass current easily to one direction more than another, sensitivity to heat, light emission which help in making light emitting diodes, thermal energy making ,and variable resistance. Also they have the ability to have their resistance decrease as temperature increases which is a huge advantage compared to metals which don't possess this ability.

-Another way that semiconductor wafers show their morphing and adaptability properties is when their conducting properties can be changed by the systematic and scientific introduction of impurities to the semiconductor. This is a scientific process known as Doping allows the introduction of impurities e.g. Boron or Phosphorous to an otherwise pure semiconductor e.g. silicon. Semiconductors are doped to obtain a surplus or deficiency in valence electrons and to control the conductivity of semiconductors. Normally, there are two types of Dopants; The p type and the n type. The p type are the electron receptors, while the n type are the electron receivers. When you combine the n type semiconductors with the p type semiconductors, you will come up with complicated systems which have a ton of uses in modern electronics.

We cannot possibly fathom how technologically backward we would be were it not for semi conducting wafers. Now you are that much more enlightened about them and their critical roles in electronics.

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About the Author:
WaferPro offers world class silicon wafers to Fortune 100 companies, universities, semiconductor industries, and government labs. We provide Prime and Test silicon wafers that adhere to SEMI standards in a variety of diameters from 2 to 12 (300mm). In addition to SEMI Standard silicon wafers, we offer (FZ) float zone wafers, (SOI) silicon on insulator wafers, and other semiconductor materials. Double side polished, oxide, MEMS wafers are also available.

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