Wafer Probe Cards - Testing the Silicon Wafer - Test Harness
About this Artwork
These are wafer probe cards, sometimes referred to as test harnesses. The probe card is used in a machine that’s more like a robot, called a wafer prober. The wafer prober uses the microprobe tips on the probe card to activate each chip on the wafer to test its functions. The tips are arranged to contact the silicon wafer in the configuration of the chip’s pads (a unique probe card must be made for every unique chip). If the chip failed the test, the prober would use an ink marker to place a dot on the chip to mark it as “bad.” The prober would move the card, or wafer, to test each chip. The probe card is made of heavy-duty fiberglass. Many of the wires and contacts were plated with gold to avoid corrosion and improve connectivity.
About These Probe Cards
Probe cards are broadly classified into needle type, vertical type, and MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical System) type depending on the shape and forms of contact elements. MEMS type is the most advanced technology currently available and can test an entire 12inch/300mm wafer at once. The Probe Cards in this artwork are needle cards.
About Making Computer Chips
Computer chips start as ordinary sand, which is silicon dioxide. The first step is to melt the sand in a furnace that reaches about 3200oF/1750oC. The silicon is purified to create 99.9999% pure silicon. The silicon is broken up into chunks and melted in a crucible. A silicon crystal seed is dipped in molten silicon and slowly drawn out to create a cylinder of silicon. These silicon cylinders are some of the purest crystals on the planet. Once the silicon cylinder is grown to the desired diameter, it is sawed into wafers and polished to achieve a very flat mirror surface. Transistors, and other microelectronic parts, are built on the polished wafer in layers in a process called etching. The wafer is then sawed/diced into its individual chips. Each chip is mounted in an electronic package that protects it and connects it to the outside world. We essentially take a pile of sand and change it into thousands of dollars worth of computer chips.
The artwork is a 16"x20" in a black shadow box frame, with glass. All framing materials are acid-free. A narrative about the artwork that includes the artist’s signature is placed on the back of the artwork.
Please note: The look of the artifacts in the artworks may vary, each piece is unique.