EEVblog #532 – Silicon Chip Wafer Fab Mailbag

A look at some equipment and wafers used in the manufacture of silicon chip wafers.
200mm and 300mm wafers, die, dice sawing, lead-frame manufacture, automated testing machine (ATE) probing, clean room bunnie suits, photo plots, BGA chip thermal test sockets, and the worlds smallest active FET probes at 100 nanometers for direct wafer probing!
Thanks to Vincent Himpe

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  1. One word : Nerdgasm

    You should really get in touch with a museum to host those things. They are incredibly interesting and beautiful pieces of industrial goodness. I even fear that a museum wouldn’t be able to put those to good value (you HAVE to see a magnified view).

    Thank you so much Vincent for passing those to Dave.

    Just woaw, you two just made my day.

  2. Terrific video. Thanks, Vincent! Good job, Dave.

  3. nice video, very informative, thanks for sharing this video .

  4. I just love the clean room dance at the beginning… Cant’ stop watching you move side to side… Hilarious…

  5. One of the best mailbag ever, but seeing you dance in that large clean clothes, I could not avoid remember the Oompa Lompa televison song

    Fantastic stuff

  6. Fabulous video Dave, very fascinating indeed.

    I’d be very interested in learning how they manufacture those super-high density metal probing clusters (in the centre of the 24-layer PCB). Do they somehow immerse those tiny springy probe wires in epoxy compound to hold them in place or what??

    I’d love to hear more about this.


  7. Great video, I loved it.

  8. Great video. I was lucky enough to do two weeks work experience, from school, in a wafer fab (STC semiconductors) in the mid 80’s. My careers teacher had a friend who worked in the wafer foundry and got me a placement. The technology then was ‘awesome’ and incredibly expensive and this video reminded me of that. I remember having to get into those bunny suits – hard to take anyone seriously when they all look like that.

    Semiconductor circuits, then (I guess the process is still the same), were laid out as an art work of the image mask (1 meter square if I recall) and then shrunk down optically to the chip scale size of the devices shown in the video. The resultant image mask was then used to expose a light sensitive resist on the wafer and which forms the basic structure of the chip. This is performed for each individual layer after doping (adding silicon) and etching several times until you get your final circuit – correct me if I am wrong ‘its been a long time’

    Has a video been done on this magical process – Dave what do you think.

    • YouTube’s got plenty of videos showing how are those wafers manufactured. I think Intel made a few of them and the TV series ‘How it’s made’ broadcasted a five minute video on the manufacturing process of camera CCD sensors in those silicon wafers coming from extruded chunks of purified silicon. Really art in science.

      Dave: every video you upload, the more I learn and get amazed in electronics. Keep up! 😉

      • I looked for those videos after I sent my last message. Would be great to see Dave touring a wafer Fab just to see how many times he says ‘Awesome’ Dave, have you ever had the chance to visit a wafer fab?

  9. I’ve used those BGA sockets. They’re awful POS. A few times we had to calibrate them to push harder, but often times they’d degrade the connection to the point where you’d see all sorts of problems and have to figure out if it’s the socket or the chip itself.

    They’re good in the sense that you can get the chip back and plop it in the circuit, but then you need to see if it’s the socket or the chip. A lot of test procedures had a “socket dance” where you pop the top off, wiggle the chip, then put it on again hoping it makes better contact.

    My very first job I worked at was AT&T Microelectronics (yes, *THAT* AT&T, though not what we know as AT&T today because AT&T went through mergers and divestments, etc). We would receive wafers (200mm back in the day, though we also handled 120mm ones which were common). I think the best look of the raw wafers bare were suspended in styrofoam boxes. We handled packaging of the chips from injection molding to putting them in the trays and tape and reel. There were rolls of blue translucent tape (about 30cm wide by many meters long) that I found out were what held the wafer while it was being cut – you’d stick the back of the wafer to the tape, then a diamond cutter would cut them into dice, and a packaging machine would carefully lift it from the now-shredded tape and encapsulate it.

    Of course, the rolls were replaced fairly often so there were half-used rolls all over the place. Should’ve snagged a few for myself – it’s really just a huge width of sticky tape in the end.

  10. Holy gazookee, 105 US Bucks for the shipping !

    People LUVVV ya Dave!

    What I’d like to send you would cost about the same… Constricted budget, it will have to wait. But, one day….

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