A Day in the Life of a CMP Process Engineer

The discovery of tungsten flakes on 300 mm wafers sends shockwaves through the department, creating a tense atmosphere and putting a strain on the entire team.

As the sun rises, John, a dedicated CMP (Chemical Mechanical Planarization) process engineer, begins his day at the semiconductor manufacturing facility. Little does he know that today will be a day filled with unexpected challenges that will test his skills and expertise to the limit.

Morning – The Discovery:

John starts his day by reviewing the production reports from the previous day. He notices an alarming trend – an increasing number of 300 mm wafers are being scraped due to the presence of tungsten flakes on their surfaces. This problem has the potential to lead to the loss of 20 wafers, a significant setback in terms of both time and cost. The tension in the CMP department is palpable, as the team realizes the severity of the issue.


John gathers the team for an emergency meeting. They brainstorm potential causes for the tungsten flake problem. Could it be an issue with the polishing pads, the slurry, or the equipment itself? As they discuss, John assigns different team members to investigate each potential cause thoroughly.

Midday – Identifying the Culprit:

After a few hours of rigorous investigation, John’s team makes a breakthrough. They discover that a recent change in the slurry composition has led to an incompatibility with the polishing pads, causing excessive wear and generating tungsten flakes. The department’s morale sinks further as they realize that the issue might have been exacerbated by the urgency to increase production speeds.

Action Plan:

With limited time to spare, John formulates a comprehensive action plan. He immediately contacts the slurry supplier to discuss the compatibility issue and requests a batch of the previous slurry formulation. Simultaneously, he instructs his team to revert to the old slurry and begins the process of conditioning the polishing pads to minimize further damage.

Afternoon – Race Against Time:

The clock is ticking, and John’s team works tirelessly to implement the action plan. The manufacturing floor is a beehive of activity, as technicians replace the slurry, fine-tune the equipment, and initiate the pad conditioning process. John coordinates the efforts, ensuring that every step is executed with precision.


As the day draws to a close, the team performs tests on a set of wafers treated with the previous slurry formulation. The results are promising – the tungsten flake issue is significantly reduced, and the wafers appear to be of acceptable quality. The department’s turmoil begins to subside as the tension gives way to cautious optimism.

Evening – Reflecting and Learning:

With the immediate crisis averted, John gathers his team for a debriefing session. They discuss the importance of thorough testing before implementing changes in the production process and the need for effective communication with suppliers. John emphasizes the significance of adaptability and quick problem-solving in the fast-paced semiconductor industry.

As John leaves the facility, he reflects on the challenges of the day. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, but his commitment, expertise, and leadership helped steer the department through the crisis. Tomorrow might bring new challenges, but John and his team are now better equipped to face whatever comes their way.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
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