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Semiconductor Processor Overview - Preparation - Day In The Life - Earnings -
Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations

Semiconductors are unique substances, which, under different conditions, can act as either conductors or insulators of electricity. Semiconductor processors turn one of these substances -- silicon -- into integrated circuits, also known as microchips. These integrated circuits contain anywhere from dozens to millions of tiny electronic components, and are used in a wide range of products, from personal computers and cellular telephones to airplanes and missile guidance systems.

Semiconductor processors -- often referred to in the industry as technicians or process technicians -- oversee the manufacturing process of microchips.

This process begins with the production of cylinders of silicon called ingots. The ingots then are sliced into thin wafers. Using automated equipment, robots polish the wafers, imprint precise microscopic patterns of the circuitry onto them using photolithography, etch out patterns with acids, and replace the patterns with conductors, such as aluminum or copper. The wafers then receive a chemical bath to make them smooth, and the imprint process begins again on a new layer with the next pattern. A complex chip may contain more than 20 layers of circuitry. Once the process is complete, wafers are then cut into individual chips, which are enclosed in a casing and shipped to equipment manufacturers.

The manufacturing and slicing of wafers to create semiconductors takes place in clean rooms -- production areas that are kept free of all airborne matter, because the circuitry on a chip is so small that even microscopic particles can make it unusable. All semiconductor processors working in clean rooms must wear special lightweight outer garments known as “bunny suits.” These garments fit over clothing to prevent lint and other particles from contaminating the clean room.

Semiconductor processors troubleshoot production problems and make equipment adjustments and repairs. They take the lead in assuring quality control and in maintaining equipment. They also test completed chips to make sure they work properly. To keep equipment repairs to a minimum, technicians perform diagnostic analyses and run computations. For example, technicians may determine if a flaw in a chip is due to contamination and peculiar to that wafer, or if the flaw is inherent in the manufacturing process.

Semiconductor Processor Resources


Overview of the work of Semiconductor Processors
Programs, Degree Fields
Day in the Life:
The Workplace
Salary Ranges, Statistics
Employment Data
Career Path Forecast:
Predictions for the field
Professional Organizations:
Resources, Networking, Support
Internet Resources:
Semiconductor Industry Association

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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