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Sapphire Wafers Further Information


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Knowledge Base

Diameter of the wafer listed in mm. Typically wafers are talked about in inches; typical sizes are 2”,3”,4”,5”,6”,8”& 12” – with 4”,6” and 8” the most commonly used in industry and academia.

Sapphire wafers are a thin slice of single crystal sapphire.

Wafers are grown as single crystals that have an ordered, regular and repeating structure. When they are sliced from the ingot the flat surface is aligned along one of several relative directions, known as the orientation. The orientation is classified by Miller indices as with silicon wafers but more commonly these are referred to by specific planes. Typical cuts of sapphire are R-plane (1102), C-Plane (0001), A-plane (1120), M-plane (1010) and N-plane (1123). Orientation affects the physical properties of the sapphire wafers – and in particular how it integrates and lattice matches with other materials.

The growth method refers to the process by which the ingot of single crystal sapphire is produced. For most sapphire wafers this is the Kyropoulos method (abbreviated to Ky or Kr). The Kyropoulos method is a continuation of the Czochralski method (CZ) which is used in the manufacture of silicon wafers. The Kr method allows for the production of very large ingots of single crystal sapphire that can then be processed into wafers.

Grade refers to the variety in the quality of the wafers. Typically these are PRIME, TEST and RECLAIMED. Prime are the highest quality and produced to the highest tolerances on flatness, cleanliness and polish. Test are similar to prime, except with less rigorous specifications to flatness and cleanliness. Reclaimed are wafers that have been stripped and polished of any previous patterning or processing. There are sometimes other grades of Si wafer mentioned but these are either synonyms of the above or have a specific tolerance on a certain parameter.

The thickness of the sapphire wafer affects the mechanical properties and is typically expressed in µm (microns) and with a tolerance (± 20µm), The tolerance is measured through a total thickness variation (TTV).

Wafer polishing is the final step in the manufacture of silicon wafers, which allows the production of a smooth, super-flat mirrored surface. There are two options for polishing: single side polish (SSP) and double side polish (DSP). SSP: Only one face is polished, the second (the backside) is etched. DSP: Both faces are polished, giving a high flatness to the wafer.

Alignment fiducial refers to the flats or notches used to identify the wafer. Originally flats were used to identify TYPE and well as ORIENTATION, but now there is less convention about what the flats mean, and notches are quite common on 8” (200mm) wafers.

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