Laser Engraving in the Semi-conductor Industry

Lasers have become an incredibly important part of the semiconductor industry. As the industry has grown, so too has its need for efficient, reliable and cost-effective processes to match demand. Lasers were the obvious solution for this, and they are used in more ways than one in this sector. One such way is laser engraving.

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As can be seen, semiconductors have many engravings in them

The semiconductor industry

A semiconductor is a small substance, which is usually a solid compound or chemical element, which is a part-conductor of electricity. Hence the term ‘semi’. It will conduct electricity while in certain circumstances, but not in others, and so it is a great substance for controlling the flow of electrical current.

For this reason, you’ll find a semiconductor is comprised of more than one material, some which are conductive, such as metal, and others which aren’t, such as ceramic. These instead act as insulators.

There can be more than one type of semiconductor too. Some are elemental, made up of materials such as arsenic, carbon or silicon, with the latter being the most prevalent. Others are common compounds, made from materials such as gallium arsenide. Regardless of which material is used, semiconductors have become a crucial component in the modern age.

Semiconductors are a key part of many electronic items such as TVs, smartphones, computers and laptops. They even play a role in medical diagnostic devices and equipment too. In fact, it’s expected that the global consumer electronics market will be worth around $2.9 trillion by 2020.

With this continued growth in demand for electronics, it is unsurprising that the semiconductor industry grew in worth to around $335.2 billion in 2015. As the number of devices that we use continues to grow, it’s probable that we will continue to see semiconductors being used. And, given this, it is also likely that we will continue seeing efficient processes such as laser engraving playing a key role in this.

How is laser engraving used in this sector?

Laser marking and laser engraving, two very similar processes, are used in much the same way for semiconductors. Laser marking is used to make marks at surface level, such as identification marks or serial numbers.

But, sometimes these markings will need to be deeper than surface level, which is the perfect application for engraving. Any engravings that are made need to be clearly visible to both humans and machines, but also the engraving process must not damage the rest of the material during operation.

Traditional engraving methods have a tendency to cause abrasive wear and tear to the material that they are working with. Laser engraving, on the other hand, is a non-contact process, and so doesn’t cause any such problems for the semiconductor. Yet, it still leaves a clear and smooth engraving. These often need to be incredibly small too, given the small nature of semiconductors.

Another way that laser engraving can be used within the semiconductor industry is by isolating metal plating on the top of the material ceramic, a component often found in semiconductors. This is done to create islands for electrical isolation, allowing the ceramic to be used for electronic circuitry.

How SPI Lasers can assist you

There are several types of laser that can be used for laser engraving, but fiber lasers are the most efficient and beneficial. As both laser marking and laser engraving will often need to be used on semiconductors, our setups can easily switch between both processes, greatly reducing operating costs for our users.

Semiconductors are used in many electrical products

Semiconductors are used in many electrical products

And, alongside this, our fiber lasers are high power, highly reliable and highly efficient. They can work with the range of materials that you will often find in semiconductors, and require no maintenance either. For more information on this, find our contact details below.

Contacting SPI Lasers to discuss laser engraving

As well as the electronics and semiconductor industries, you’ll also find laser engraving being used in other sectors such as aerospace, automotive and medical too. If you would like to find out more about how the process works or have specific questions, then we would be more than happy to help. Please find our contact details here.


Image credits: skeeze and Lee Campbell

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