Vision helps dice wafers into chips

Scribe-and-break method turns semiconductor wafers into integrated-circuit chips.

Scribe-and-break method turns semiconductor wafers into integrated-circuit chips.

The usual method of subdividing (or dicing) semiconductor wafers is to cut them up with a diamond saw. It is a very precise but dirty and wasteful process. To keep the saw blade cool, operators have to flood the wafer surface with a liquid slurry, which carries away both heat and ground-up particles. The blade has a significant width, leading to a "kerf," or strip of material that the saw grinds to powder.

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