Where does silicon semiconductor manufacturing start from? I mean, what are the principal ores that may be used to start the technological process and what extraction process is used? (And what are the principal countries that extract such ores?) I know that quartz sand is a common raw material for this process, but I do not manage to understand how it is obtained. In the industrial practice, is it taken from the beach, desert, or from inshore quarries? Or perhaps blocks of quartz minerals are extracted and then turned into sand by a mechanical process. The staring material for

  • Yoo's Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology is high-quality sand
  • Quirk's Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology is pure sand
  • Geng's Semiconductor Manufacturing Handbook is quartz of quartzite
  • In May's Fundamentals of Semiconductor Manufacturing and Process Control I was unable to find a word about it.

Any suggestion about books containing more information about that subject is highly appreciated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It’s a tradeoff between the cost of the sand and the cost of removing all impurities such as microwave iron detonation and ultrasonic acid leaching. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 22, 2020 at 0:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TonyStewartSunnyskyguyEE75 what is "iron detonation"? I did a quick search but nothing jumped out at me \$\endgroup\$
    – uhoh
    Aug 22, 2020 at 1:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ microwaving silica sand with iron impurities get burnt up, as in pfft. Impurities must be << 1ppm. Mil-std parts for aerospace and <=7nm litho near xx ppb due to partial discharge of high E fields and destructive yields \$\endgroup\$ Aug 22, 2020 at 2:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TonyStewartSunnyskyguyEE75 sore fat finger typos edited for you :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon
    Aug 22, 2020 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks @TonyStewartSunnyskyguyEE75 Your precious information will be a good starting point for me to districate in the very difficult letterature of such a field. Sad that there are no introductory books/papers. \$\endgroup\$
    – trying
    Aug 22, 2020 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


High-purity quartz is mined here.


  • The World in a Grain by Vince Beiser
  • Sand: The Never-Ending Story, by Michael Welland

To start out, sand is mined in large pits, just like copper, in countries like China. It is then shipped to a factory where it is heated a small amount above its melting point using carbon, which helps to remove the oxygen found in sand. It is then purified using a trichlorosilane distilaltion process. I recommend looking at this website for more information.


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