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Top 10 silicon wafer manufacturing companies in the world

Silicon wafers are the foundation of modern electronics. So, they create a sub-microscopic layer that. It includes the integrated circuits that are now ubiquitous in our daily lives. Nowadays, there is an increasing need for faster silicon wafer manufacturing. So, companies across the globe have arisen to meet this demand.

Silicon is one of the essential materials for every electronic product on Earth. As a result, we must produce silicon wafers with precision and efficiency. But silicon wafers are new compared to their more cousins in the industry. The first significant use of silicon in electronics did not occur until after World War 2.

But, the wafers that we are familiar with today have been in mass production for almost 50 years.

What is a Silicon Wafer?

A silicon wafer consists of a single crystal on a very thin silicon layer. So, we can arrange them in many different ways. The wafers come in many sizes. As a result, some are more valuable than others. They are often helpful as the base material. As a result, they help create modern processors, memory chips and integrated circuits (ICs).

The type of wafer you use depends on your specific needs and industry. The most common type of silicon wafer is the single-crystal silicon wafer. Additionally, there are three primary forms of the single-crystal silicon wafer:

Type A – This wafer’s most used type has a very high purity of 99.999%. We use it in high-performance computer memory chips, cell phones, and digital cameras. They are also essential in other devices that need a high degree of density and function.

Type B is more challenging to produce than type A due to its high purity value. But, we use it in high-resolution colour memory chips and sensor applications. These are applications that need very high performance at a low operating temperature.

Type C – A cheaper alternative to type B, this wafer has a purity of less than 99.999% but still meets most end-uses. We use it to manufacture logic chips. They provide functionality in integrated circuits. As a result, it enables computers and iPhones to send data and perform calculations.

History

To understand the importance of silicon wafers, we must look at the history of the material. The first silicon-based electronic devices came out in 1882. Heinrich Hertz from Germany and Nikola Tesla from New York City were the inventors. They used a crude form of semiconductor technology to show the existence of radio waves. It was later called Hertz. The wave of energy produced by a spark between two electrodes consisted of electromagnetic radiation. But these waves are not visible to the human eye. This finding was a rudimentary form of semiconductor technology. So, these scientists used non-metallic conductors to create the energetic wave.

But these scientists, who laid the foundation for the electronics field, did not stop there. Hertz and Tesla continued to experiment with this new technology. Tesla invented what we now know as the Tesla Coil. It is a device used to generate electromagnetic waves at higher frequencies than Hertz. These waves could then move wirelessly through the air without cables.

In 1905, Albert Einstein published his famous paper on “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?”.

Today, Einstein’s paper is one of the essential publications in physics. It is the foundation for modern atomic theory. But at the time, Einstein’s work was not well received. However, the concepts were historically significant. So, to further understand his theories, Einstein decided that he needed a better experimental platform to test them on. He believed that we could achieve this by creating a unique device. This device would be capable of measuring small changes in electromagnetic mass.

Top 10 Silicon Wafer manufacturing companies

silicon wafer price

Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation

Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation is an American semiconductor foundry. It specializes in creating high-density and high-performance logic devices for microprocessors. Hemlock also works with digital signal processors and graphics processing unit markets. It came into existence in 1990, and its headquarters are in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hemlock also has offices in Tokyo, Japan and Taipei, Taiwan. The company is in the top ten silicon wafer manufacturers globally. However, the ranking depends on its production capacity. Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation produces over 45,000 silicon wafers per month. It has a total production area of over 75,000 square feet.

LANCO

LANCO is a corporation known for its production and sales of silicon wafers. It had its headquarters in Nara Prefecture, Japan. LANCO produces several products. They include:

  • semiconductor devise manufacturing tools
  • grinding machines
  • polishing machines
  • ion implantation machines
  • ion implanters
  • electrical discharge machines

It started operations in 1971, and it is one of the world’s top ten silicon wafer manufacturers.

LANCO manufactures high-quality polysilicon wafers used in electronics, telecommunications, and other industries. It started as a small company. However, it has become one of the world’s largest producers of dielectric materials by volume. LANCO operates biennially at over 200 facilities worldwide. It has a total production area of over 1.4 million square meters (15 million square feet).

Elkem

Elkem is a Norwegian company that specializes in silicon wafer manufacturing. Based in Trondheim, they produce semiconductors. They also make other materials used in electronics and the microelectronic industry. Ole F. Christiansen founded it in 1947 under the name Elektronikk og Materiell. It led to the name Elkem. Additionally, they have one of the largest global production capacities of silicon wafers/. As a result, they outdo some of the leading silicon wafer manufacturing companies globally.

Elkem operates with a total production area of around 3 million square meters. So, it has a production capacity of almost 1.5 million silicon wafers per month. Their primary services include developing, fabrication, and sales of high-performance materials. In addition, we use them to produce cutting-edge products in the electronics industry. For example, they have LEDs, solar cells and semiconductor devices.

MEMC Electronic Materials

MEMC Electronic Materials is a company headquartered in Nanjing, China. It started in 1992. So, it is a top ten silicon wafer manufacturer globally. As a result, this depends on its annual production capacity. MEMC produces high-purity polysilicon wafers. This helps to create DRAM memories, logic chips and other electronic devices. Also, MEMC engages in the research and development of materials. We use them to make semiconductor devices and high-quality silicon material. They are essential for computer memory chips.

This is a global pioneer in developing, producing, and selling high-quality silicon wafers. It also provides a variety of other semiconductor materials to clients worldwide. It maintains production facilities in 11 different locations around the globe. Most of them are in China, Spain, Germany, and the United States. MEMC has a production area of about 310 million square meters.

Okmetic

Okmetic is a Silicon Wafer manufacturer. It produces high-purity silicon wafers used to manufacture analogue and digital electronics. Okmetic started operations in Germany in 1992. Okmetic initially operated under VBK Silicon. Then Semiconductor Business Europe (SBE) acquired it in 1995. It then changed its name to Okmetic. It is an initialism for “OK,” the German word “OK”.

Novellus Systems Group finally acquired SBE in 1999. This technology company design develops and manufactures a variety of silicon wafers. So, we use them to fabricate digital and analogue semiconductors. Okmetic operates with a total production area of over 1 million square meters. They have more than 1000 workers worldwide. They are one of the world’s top silicon wafer manufacturers in production capacity.

PV Crystalox Solar

The PV Crystalox Solar is a silicon crystal manufacturer, and its headquarters are in the Netherlands. They specialize in producing silicon wafers to supply to the solar photovoltaic industry. Founded in 1978, we often refer to PV Crystalox Solar as “The Dutch Silicon Valley”. This is because it has high-quality silicon wafers. In addition, they are suppliers of solar cell manufacturers like CIGS Cell and others.

PV Crystalox Solar has a total production area of around 200,000 square meters (2.3 million square feet). They have a current annual production capacity of 2 million silicon wafers. Also, they operate at over 20 facilities around the globe.

It produces multi crystalline silicon ingots and wafers, making crystalline silicon solar cells. PV Crystalox Solar utilizes the latest technology in silicon wafer manufacturing. As a result, they include high-temperature vacuum processing and high-purity, rapid temperature annealing processes. It also has a comprehensive quality control infrastructure. This ensures its products are always of the highest quality.

Shin-Etsu Chemical

Founded in 1931, it was only focusing on semiconductor materials. However, the company has become Japan’s second-largest silicon wafer manufacturer. They operate with a total production area of over 750,000 square meters.

Shin-Etsu Chemical is a company that specializes in the production of semiconductor materials. They are one of the top silicon wafer manufacturers worldwide. Their products also include quartz, zinc oxide, and hydrogen fluoride.

Shin-Etsu Chemical is a Japanese company. It produces silicon wafers used in the semiconductor industry. They are mostly known for being one of the largest silicon wafers producers globally. We use them for NAND Flash memory manufacturers. Some of them include Vertec Company, Rayming PCB & Assembly, Renesas Electronics, and other Japanese companies.

Siltronic

Siltronic is a global leader in producing high-purity, silicon photovoltaic (SiPV) devices. The company started in 1963 and had a total production area of around 2 million square meters. They have almost 2 million semiconductor wafers per month. This is equal to about 100 million silicon wafers per year.

Siltronic manufactures and distributes a variety of different semiconductor products. They include:

  • Single-crystal silicon ingots and wafers
  • Multicrystalline silicon ingots and wafers
  • Standard-grade solar cells
  • Ultra-high-purity silicon ingots and wafers

They also produce high-quality semiconductor devices for a variety of different applications.

This company has one of the largest production capacities for solar cells globally. They have manufacturing facilities around the globe. But, global wafer Siltronic has its headquarters in Germany. They operate with a global workforce of almost 4,000 employees.

Mitsubishi / Sumitomo Sumco Silicon

silicon wafer production by country

Mitsubishi Silicon Corporation is a Japanese company. So, they produce silicon wafers used to manufacture solar panels and semiconductor chips. The company started in 1949. It specializes in delivering high-quality, multicrystalline silicon ingots and wafers. For use in the solar photovoltaic industry.

Mitsubishi operates with a total production area of about 1 million square meters. It consists of several different production facilities around Japan. They also operate with an entire workforce of over 7,500 employees.

Mitsubishi Sumitomo Sumco Silicon is a multinational corporation. So, it produces high-purity silicon wafers used to manufacture solar panels and semiconductor chips. The company started in 1973, and they have their headquarters in Japan.

LDK Solar

LDK Solar is a silicon wafer producer. It specializes in silicon wafers for the solar photovoltaic industry. Founded in 1992, Its headquarters are in China. LDK Solar is one of the largest crystalline silicon wafers used in solar panels.

LDK Solar has a total production area of about 500,000 square meters. They have a current annual production capacity of 1 million silicon wafers. In addition, they produce silicon wafers to manufacture solar panels.

LDK Solar is the largest crystalline silicon wafers used to manufacture solar cells. It has a production capacity of around 1 million wafers per month.

Silicon Wafer Production Process

Silicon wafer production begins by melting purified silicon. Then, we use a heat gun or a furnace, heating, and high-temperature annealing it.

They transfer each silicon wafer from the furnace to a tool called an etch stencil. So, it etches it to remove the unwanted silicon material. The remaining part at the bottom of the etch stencil is the seed layer. Finally, we polish it to expose the silicon ingot’s crystal face. Below are the preparation and production details.

Preparation of the Silicon Wafer Media

The purpose of preparing the silicon wafer media is to remove the unwanted silicon material. We find these materials on the seed layer. As a result, we refer to this process as silicon wafer production. It starts by vapor removing the unwanted silicon material. Then, we do this by heating it in an oven enough to complete this process.

Crystal Growth and Wafer Slicing Process:

We place single crystal seeds on a rotating wafer carrier to grow the crystal silicon on the seed layer. After the crystal is grown, it’s cut into thin slices and sent for testing and packaging.

Thickness Sorting:

We send the wafer to be thickness-sorted. Then it is ready for the crystallization process.

Lapping & Etching Processes:

The next step in the wafer wafering is to lap and etch the wafers. Then we do the lapping by polishing the surfaces of the silicon wafers. In this step, we use a lapping machine called a lap-polisher.

Thickness Sorting and Flatness Checking:

The wafers of the same size and flatness are then packaged and sent to be ready for the following process.

Polishing Process:

The next step in silicon wafer production is to polish the silicon wafers. Then, the polishing process uses polishing processes like pickle and shot blast.

Final Dimensional and Electrical Properties Qualification:

The silicon wafers go for testing and qualification. We do the final dimensional and electrical properties qualification. This is to determine the quality of the silicon wafers.

Silicon Wafer Processing Steps

The different processing steps help put the wafers through before they are ready for the following process. First, the wafers pass through various processing steps. They include silicon wafer cutting, testing, slicing and polishing.

In the case of its use in solar panels, we measure monocrystalline Silicon in Angstrom units. In other words, we measure monocrystalline silicon depending on its approximate molecular weight. Monocrystalline Silicon has a “grain size” of approximately one micron. It means it’s a layer of crystallized silicon that looks like a needle.

Fabrication:

The silicon wafers go for fabrication after the crystal growth. Then the wafer slicing process follows. The fabrication process includes the following steps:

Monocrystalline Silicon wafers are first sliced into thin silicon ingots then polished. We then coat the rough surface of each silicon ingot with a layer of photoresist. Then we expose them to light through a patterned mask.

Diffusion:

The patterned mask comes out, and it is now time for the diffusion process. First, we expose the silicon wafers to a solution of nitrogen and hydrogen gases. Then the hydrogen molecules diffuse into the silicon lattice. As a result, then they bond to the silicon surface. The process stops when there’s no more diffusion after several hours of exposure. This depends on some specific levels of hydrogen.

Coat-Bake:

After exposing the silicon wafers to the hydrogen gas for several hours, they bake in an oven for several hours. This process aims to remove the silicon wafers from the solution, which can be harmful. And after that, the silicon wafers go for coating with a layer of SiO. Finally, we then passivate it with a chemical called HF.

Align:

The next step in the fabrication process is to align the wafers. The wafers then move to the aligning machine. First, it aligns them by making them spin around and line up. After that, the machine polishes and metallizes them.

Develop:

After aligning and polishing the wafers, the machine develops them. Then, they go through a “magnetic coating” process.

Dry etch:

The wafers then go dry carving before another round of polishing and metallizing. After that, we expose them to a high-temperature annealing process. This gets rid of any remaining hydrogen molecules.

Wet etch & clean:

When the wafers are ready to go through the wet etch process, we first clean them with an HF chemical. The wafers are then exposed to WF sublimation gas and then sent for annealing by polishing it twice.

We saw silicon wafers into diamond-shaped pieces known as “lumps” for this process. After that, we call the process sheet-cutting. We do it using a machine, which cuts the sheets from the sheet of the silicon wafer.

Photolithography:

The next step is to apply thin photoresist layers to the silicon wafer lumps. The idea is to cover the upper part of the silicon wafer with a thin photoresist layer. Then, we expose it to a patterned mask.

Implant / Masking Steps:

The next step is to expose it to a specific set of X-ray beams. Finally, we project the X-ray beams through a patterned mask. This creates a thin photoresist layer on each silicon wafer.

Die Attach / Wire Bond:

We expose the wafers to the X-ray beams through a patterned mask. Then we transferred them to a vacuum box and stored them there. Once they’re in the vacuum box, they’re ready for the die to attach and wire bond process.

Encapsulation:

The next step in the silicon wafer production process is encapsulation. This process aims to create an airtight barrier. First, this isolates the wires from the wafer. Then it protects them from oxidative gases and moisture.

Lead Finish / Trim and Form:

The wafers go for trimming and formation after encapsulation. The silicon wafers are then lead finish.

Final Testing / Shipping:

After the lead finish process, the wafers are then tested and packaged. Finally, we ship to be ready for the following process.

Criteria to Select these Top Silicon Wafer Manufacturing Companies

The essential criteria in selecting the top silicon wafer suppliers are:

Wafer Quality:

The most critical measures to choose the top silicon wafers manufacturing companies are:

-High-quality raw materials.

-Accurate dimensions of silicon wafers.

-High yield of the process.

-Long term quality about service for a fixed price.

-High-quality silicon wafers.

Wafer quality is essential in the production of solar cells. This is because they are the part that contains solar cells. The quality of the wafers will determine the final result of the finished product. It is always easy to produce something that is not good than to produce something good.

Wafer thickness:

The essential factors in selecting the top silicon wafers manufacturing companies are:

-Thickness of silicon wafer production

-Effect on panel efficiency

-Thickness guarantee

Quality of the silicon:

The essential factors in selecting the top silicon wafers manufacturing companies are:

-Carrier-to-absorber conversion efficiency.

The quality of the solar cells depends on the quality of silicon they’re made out of. So the higher level of purity in silicon, the better quality solar cells will have.

Time of the silicon wafers production:

The essential criteria in selecting the top silicon wafer manufacturing companies are:

  • -Time of the silicon wafer production.
  • -Delivery time
  • -Flexibility of delivery time.
  • -Testing time.

Cost of Energy (Capex):

The essential factors in selecting the top silicon wafers manufacturing companies are:

  • -Savings in energy cost based on saving money on solar technology
  • -Savings in energy cost based on getting more efficient solar panels

RoHS:

The essential factors in selecting the top silicon wafers manufacturing companies are:

  • -Compliance with EU RoHS standards.
  • -The solar panel manufacturer must show on their website that they’re “RoHS compliant”

Energy Self-Sufficiency:

The essential factors in selecting the top silicon wafers manufacturing companies are:

  • -Number of goods that we can reduce using solar energy only
  • -Energy self-sufficiency

Environmental Responsibility:

The most important criteria to select the top silicon wafers manufacturing companies are:

  • -Solar manufacturers should be using eco-friendly production processes and materials

SiC Wafer Manufacturing Equipment:

The most important criteria to select the top silicon wafers manufacturing companies are:

  • -Manufacturing equipment for SiC wafer production

Conclusion

We use silicon wafers in different ways in solar cells and semiconductor lasers. For example, silicon wafers are essential to creating solar panels. This is a renewable energy source. In addition, solar panels help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which can cause global warming.

The use of solar power has increased over the last few years. We estimate that by 2050 the total energy produced will be approximately 20% from photovoltaic systems. Solar cells can either consist of Germanium or Silicon. But the basis of all solar cells is the silicon wafer. As a result, the production of silicon wafers has increased. We expect it to increase over the following years.