Macro photos of silicon wafers

Silicon wafer with three PC88 radio valves

Thanks to the wonders of eBay I now own three silicon wafers of some description, and because they contain microscopic detail I decided it’d be good to photograph them.

Focusing the camera was really hard, it’s bad enough getting a manual lens to focus but when the thing being photographed is so small it can’t be seen with the naked eye it requires a lot of trial and error. I also bought some old radio valves for a few quid off eBay too and decided to compare the two. It’s fun holding an entire wafer of ICs in one hand and having a single valve in the other.

Here is one of the wafers with some circuitry laid down in a regular pattern. The eBay bid says it was Intel memory of some description, but the wafer contains no visible writing to identify it. If I had a microscope I’d probably find something to read that’d identify it. The chips are arranged into small squares varying between half a centimetre and less than two millimetres across. I really like the edges of the wafers where there are half complete circuits due to the shape of the wafer. If these were processors, each one would be worth a hundred pounds or so, and the edge contains about 100 defective half made ones. A lot of the middle ones probably didn’t work properly either.

It’s hard to appreciate just how small the traces are on the surface, fortunately one of my hairs fell out while trying to get my camera to behave and I took a photo of it on the surface of the silicon wafer.