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Silicon Substrate Specimen Preparation

Metallographic etchant database

Specimen preparation of friable or brittle materials such as silicon offer a microstructural preparation challenge. Proper microstructural preparation of these materials must minimize fracturing the silicon structure. This is accomplished by first by cutting or sectioning with fine grit / low concentration diamond blades. Oftentimes microelectronic cross sections are not encapsulated and just mounted using a hot melt tape. If the specimens are encapsulated, a castable mounting compound such as an acrylic or an epoxy is recommended. Initial grinding and polishing with diamond lapping films is required to prevent undue damage to the silicon during grinding. Rough polishing is accomplished on low napped polishing cloths using diamond, with final polishing for a very short time on a high napped cloth using collodial silica.


Diamond Wafering blade - fine grit / low concentration

Hot melt tape or castable mounting with Epoxy or Acrylic resins




Force/ sample


15 um Diamond Lapping Film POLYLUBE Diamond Extender 5 lbs 3 minutes
9 um Diamond Lapping Film POLYLUBE Diamond Extender 5 lbs 2 minutes
6 um Diamond Lapping Film POLYLUBE Diamond Extender 5 lbs 2 minutes
3 um Diamond Lapping Film POLYLUBE Diamond Extender 5 lbs 2 minutes

1 um DIAMAT Diamond on ATLANTIS polishing pad

DIALUBE Purple Lubricant

5 lbs

1 minute

Colloidal silica on MICROPAD or MICROPAD 2 polishing pad   5 lbs 30 seconds

Metallographic cutting with fine grit diamond wafering blade   Metallographic diamond cutting with incorrect wafering blade

Figure 1. Fine grit diamond cut

Figure 2. Medium grit diamond
Electronic package   Electronic package

Figure 3. Electronic package

Figure 4. Electronic package

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