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A true second life for silicon

​A new recycling solution for silicon wafers used for research purposes at CEA-Leti was recently implemented with an aluminum foundry in a win-win partnership!

Published on 17 March 2020

Every year the cleanrooms at CEA-Leti produce three tons of silicon wafers. These wafers, which are used for research purposes only, are ground up and sent to special underground storage facilities. In addition to cost and environmental concerns, the current process is long, laborious, and dangerous for the lab personnel involved.


Leti has developed and validated a simpler recycling process that will truly give end-of-life research wafers a second life. The institute will now send its wafers to an aluminum foundry 400 km away, where the silicon can be used in different alloys. Even better, the process does not require any special preparation: The wafers are sent to the foundry as-is in sealed bags and are stored in a secure location until they are melted down to ensure that no project-related information is obtained by third parties.


The process has been in use for several months and is a win for both partners. Leti is happy with the substantial savings of both time and money, and the foundry is able to purchase an excellent raw material at an unbeatable price. 

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