How silicon microchips are made — an infographic

Mayank Batavia
2 min readApr 26, 2019
Image source: Unsplash

In the world of technology, microchips are the hidden power that run devices, drive technologies and build businesses.

Dreams of modern-day scientists, designs of corporations and ambitions of countries are fueled by microchips — those wafers no bigger than a human’s nail. From major action plans to dominate artificial intelligence to running world’s fastest supercomputers to powering IoT to improving healthcare… there’s no escaping microchips in the modern world.

Ever wonder how silicon microchips are made? What makes these wafers to powerful? Why is there so much power struggle built behind microchips?

Here’s an infographic that shows the process from mining sand to shipping finished silicon chips.

How silicon microchips are made

Mine it

Source and mine sand with high quality silicon dioxide deposits from natural sources.

Melt it

Melt and refine sand to produce 99.9999% pure single-crystal silicon.

Heat it

Heat the purified Silicon to take it to a molten state. Use a perfectly structured Silicon to seed it.

Bond it

Molten Silicon forms a bond with the seed and long ingots are drawn out of it.

Saw it

Saw the ingots into wafers of diameters 200mm or 300mm across.

Clean it

Clean and polish the wafers for desired quality for the next stage of processing.

Layer it

Now place a layer of non-conducting silicon dioxide on the silicon wafers.

Cover it

Next, cover that layer with Photoresist, a photosensitive chemical.

Expose it

Expose Photoresist to UV light through a mask, hardening the exposed area.

Dope it

Change the conductive properties by bombarding it with ions — a process called Doping.

Etch it

Etch away selected material using plasma, which reacts with the part not covered with Photoresist.

Plate it

Add a layer of insulation and with electroplating, add a layer of copper ions.

Connect it

Based on the architecture decided, connect them so that chips perform like transistors.

Ship it

Test the chips for various factors and then package and ship them.

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Mayank Batavia

Interested in AI, data privacy and our next-door dragon. Teach/Taught math. Love smart puzzles that I can’t solve, which means most. Run blog www.almostism.com