Silicon Wafers to Collect Solar Matter in Unique Exploratory Venture
30 Jul 2001
(Source: MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc.)
MEMC Wafers Critical to NASA'S Genesis Mission
MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc.
ST. PETERS, Mo. (BUSINESS WIRE) - MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. (NYSE: WFR - news) today announced that several hundred of its silicon wafers will be carried into space aboard the NASA spacecraft "Genesis".
The spacecraft, which is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center, will orbit between the Earth and the Sun for two years. MEMC silicon wafers, configured in a series of "Collector Arrays," will unfurl at various intervals and collect solar wind. This pure solar matter, in the form of high velocity ions, will embed into the wafers. The spacecraft will then return to Earth where analysis is expected to provide a wide range of data. By analyzing these ions, scientists hope to determine the Sun's actual chemical composition - thus enabling them to extrapolate the formation of other planets. "Genesis - Search for Origins," part of NASA's Discovery program, is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology.
Silicon, traditionally used as the substrate upon which nearly all semiconductor devices are manufactured, was chosen as the ideal collection material because of its ability to radiate heat and because of its high purity levels. Therefore, the success of the mission rests almost entirely on the performance of MEMC's wafers. Don Burnett, Principal Investigator and Lead Scientist, California Institute of Technology, led the NASA team to MEMC's St. Peters Plant where the wafers were processed. "The quality of MEMC silicon wafers both in terms of purity and in terms of surface cleanliness was a key to getting Genesis selected by NASA. We ended up with a very challenging mechanical design for the wafer shape, but MEMC went the extra mile to meet our requirements, producing a product that met very tight mechanical specifications. MEMC has played a major role in getting Genesis off the ground", said Burnett.
Dr. John De Luca, MEMC's Corporate Vice President - Technology, commented, "MEMC is proud to have participated in such an important way in a major NASA project that will collect unique and very valuable information about our solar system and the universe around us."
MEMC is a leading worldwide producer of silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry. Silicon wafers are the fundamental building block from which almost all semiconductor devices are manufactured, such as computers, mobile electronic devices, automobiles, and other consumer and industrial products. Headquartered in St. Peters, MO, MEMC operates manufacturing facilities directly or through joint ventures in every major semiconductor manufacturing region throughout the world, including Europe, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.