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III-V Substrates

Cleaving III-V substrates is simple with the right tools. Applications fit in two major categories.

  • Downsizing of full wafers and pieces for surface analysis or further processing..
  • Cleaving to make laser bars and edge emitting lasers.

Cleaving GaAs Wafers and Laser Bars

The FlexScribe is commonly used for downsizing wafers. Matt Kim of QuantTera has developed a reliable way to quickly make 5x5 mm die from 4 and 6" wafers. These die are then processed individually saving cost and accelerating time to results. Download the applications note.

The LatticeAx 420 was used to separate laser bars from a GaAs chip. Both "indent to cleave" and manual methods were used to cleave the GaAs laser bars.

FlexScribe used to cleave 4" GaAs wafer
Using the FlexScribe to cleave a 4" GaAs wafer
LatticeAx cleaves laser bars
LatticeAx used for cleaving laser bars

GaN Wafer Downsizing

For III-V substrates and wafers that are cubic such as GaAs and InP, brittle and relatively soft on the mohs hardness scale, cleaving is simple. The LatticeAx alone, does a great job downsizing these materials. It is clean, dry and fast.

For materials that are not cubic or need to be cleaved counter to a crystal plane, tools that can scribe across the entire length of the sample are required. Have a look at the Sapphire page for an explanation. You will need the FlipScribe or FlexScribe to make full length scribes and cleave wafers with hexagonal and trigonal structures. Examples of these materials are GaN, AlN, SiC and Sapphire.

The images on the right are from a 2” GaN wafer. Scribing was done with the FlipScribe and the FlexScribe. The FlexScribe was used to downsize the whole wafer in half. The FlipScribe was used to further downsize by scribing the backside of the wafer, eliminating contamination to the top surface. The combination of frontside and backside scribing give the user flexibility to develop a process for wafers with non-cubic structures. Cleanbreak cleaving pliers were used after scribing to cleave.

GaN scribed using the FlipScribe
GaN wafer scribed with the FlipScribe
Facet of Cleave edge of GaN
Cleaved facets of GaN wafer scribed with the FlexScribe and FlipScribe 

Preparation of samples measurement of photonic properties

The sample is a 200 μm thin InP wafer with multiple layers of epitaxial films consisting of Al, Ga, In and As. During R&D, a quick, precise means to singulate a die is required to replace dicing by sawing.

The LatticeAx 420 indent to cleave process resulted in rapid, accurate and repeatable singulation.

InP with epitaxial films forming laser ridges
InP die cleaved with the LatticeAx
Laser ridges on InP
Laser ridges cleaved with the LatticeAx.


Downsizing samples for analysis or processing

In addition to downsizing wafers to die sized pieces the LatticeAx is used for thin, small and even off crystal axis cleaving. The image on the right shows the diamond wedge indenter of the LatticeAx precisely positioned on the sample to control the location of the cleave. As the indenter is lowered it creates a defect on the sample surface that eventually causes a cleave to propagate. This method is called "indent to cleave" and can be used on silicon, GaAs and other crystalline, thin samples. Read more about this application HERE

On the far right is shows how the LatticeAx indenter is used as a wedge. The indenter first makes a weak point on the sample surface followed by downward force to cleave the sample.

The indenter can be used as a wedge
Indenter serves as a wedge to cleave.

The solution may require one or more tools to get the job done. For instance:

Don't see your application here, CONTACT US for a recommendation.

Products for III-V Substrates

Cleaving Tools

Ther are a number of accessories that will be important for your laboratory. 

CleanBreak Pliers with 3 Sets of Jaws. Once you have an accurate indent or scribe, you will need to cleave your sample. The pliers provide symmetrical force when cleaving the sample. Cleanbreak pliers are used for samples 20mm/.75" and larger.

Small sample cleaving pliers. For samples <20mm/.75" small sample cleaving pliers are required. They will work well for samples up to 1mm thick. For thicker samples cleave over an edge or with the Small sample cleaver.
The Small sample cleaver cleaves samples that are small <10mm wide and cannot be handled with your hands or tweezers.
Can't decide what you need? A good starting point for every lab is a cleaving kit. The cleaving mat keeps the workspace organized and easy to clean.


Watch videos showing the operation of the scribing and cleaving tools and systems.

FlexScribe For Wafer Downsizing
Operating the LatticeAx 120
Operating the FlipScribe
Indent to cleave on 10x10mm GaAs chip
Using the small sample cleaver
Cleaving with Cleanbreak pliers
Downsizing a 2" Sapphire wafer by cleaving


Publications (for copies, contact or for downloadable copies of these publications you must be registered and signed in

QuantTera, GaAs Wafer Cleaving
Cleanroom Technology, Clean Cleaving
Global Foundries, A Controlled Mechanical Method for MEMS Decapsulation (poster)
University of Copenhagen, Successful Cleaving of Delicate Nanostructures
EDFA Journal, Cleaving Breakthrough: A New Method Removes Old Limitations
scribers and cleavers

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