Measurement of arsenic and gallium content of gallium arsenide semiconductor waste streams by ICP-MS

Keith W. Torrance, Helen E. Keenan, Andrew S. Hursthouse, David Stirling

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21 Citations (Scopus)


The chemistry of semiconductor wafer processing liquid waste, contaminated by heavy metals, was investigated to determine arsenic content. Arsenic and gallium concentrations were determined for waste slurries collected from gallium arsenide ( GaAs) wafer processing at three industrial sources and compared to slurries prepared under laboratory conditions. The arsenic and gallium content of waste slurries was analyzed using inductively coupled plasma mass-spectrometry (ICP-MS) and it is reported that the arsenic content of the waste streams was related to the wafer thinning process, with slurries from wafer polishing having the highest dissolved arsenic content at over 1,900 mg L-1. Lapping slurries had much lower dissolved arsenic (<90 mg L-1) content, but higher particulate contents. It is demonstrated that significant percentage of GaAs becomes soluble during wafer lapping. Grinding slurries had the lowest dissolved arsenic content at 15 mg L-1. All three waste streams are classified as hazardous waste, based on their solids content and dissolved arsenic levels and treatment is required before discharge or disposal. It is calculated that as much as 93% of material is discarded through the entire GaAs device manufacturing process, with limited recycling. Although gallium can be economically recovered from waste slurries, there is little incentive to recover arsenic, which is mostly landfilled. Options for treating GaAs processing waste streams are reviewed and some recommendations made for handling the waste. Therefore, although the quantities of hazardous waste generated are miniscule in comparison to other industries, sustainable manufacturing practices are needed to minimize the environmental impact of GaAs semiconductor device fabrication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-475
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Gallium arsenide
  • semiconductor
  • lapping waste
  • polishing waste
  • ICP-MS
  • environmental issues
  • sustainability


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