When manufacturing glass or silicon chips, Micronit uses large substrates that are later divided into individual chips, after processing and bonding. For this singulation process, Micronit uses several techniques: dicing, scribing and breaking.
For the fabrication of smaller chips and chips with tight tolerances on outer dimensions, Micronit dices the chips with a conventional dicing saw. This is a well-established process in microfabrication technology. The machine Micronit works with is a CNC controlled, programmable dicing machine with a vision system for automated alignment.
As an alternative to dicing, Micronit owns a CNC controlled wafer scribing tool. In the scribing process, a sharp and very small diamond cutting wheel is dragged over the wafer, creating a well-defined crack. The advantage of this method is that there is no loss of material, and it is a dry method, compared to the water-cooled wafer dicing process described above. In this way, fluidic channels crossing the chip boundary (e.g. for edge connection) always stay dry during the separation process. On the other hand, dimensional tolerances are slightly better for the wafer dicing process.
A third method is breaking the chips, using pre-processed breaking lines. During the standard chip fabrication process additional steps are taken to enable breaking out glass devices out of the processed substrates after processing is complete. This is a patented, proven high quality, fast and very cheap process. Breaking out the chips is possible from a minimum device size of 10 x 10 mm and is done in a cleanroom environment. As is the case for scribing, a major advantage over dicing is that no cooling fluids are needed. This reduces the risk of polluting the channels.