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Subject: Obit: Robert Walsh invent silicon wafer polishi Date: 10/14/2012 7:40 PM
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Obituary in today's Post-Dispatch:

Robert Walsh, inventor of Monsanto's silicon wafer polishing technology, on which the current MEMC was founded.


Robert Jerome Walsh
Obituary
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"I'll never groan at a pun without thinking of you. Love you..."
- Robin Allison

Walsh, Robert Jerome 83, of Ballwin, Missouri, died on Monday October 8, 2012 at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Missouri. He was born January 12, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois to William F. Walsh and Alma Marie Liljequist Walsh. He married Joyce Ann Roller of Dayton, Ohio in 1954, and they were later divorced in 1967. Bob grew up in Wisconsin and his future scientific career was foreshadowed by the extensive home chemistry laboratory he maintained in high school. He graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin, receiving a BS in Chemical Engineering in 1950. A brilliant scientist and inventor, he spent most of his career working for Monsanto; first in Dayton (1952-1961), where he began as a Research Engineer, and later in St. Louis (1961-1986) where he eventually retired as a Senior Fellow. He held a total of 18 patents that significantly shaped the development of the worldwide electronics industry, of which 12 have been successfully commercialized. Perhaps the most remarkable of these is the Walsh Process for polishing semiconductor silicon wafers to produce damage free surfaces. This method, developed in 1962, is still the worldwide standard used by silicon wafer manufacturers, and it made possible the subsequent rapid advance of the integrated circuit industry, impacting every facet of today's digital world. Bob was recognized for his many successes with numerous awards through the years, none greater than the 1986 SEMI Award for North America honoring outstanding technological achievement in the semiconductor materials industry. Bob's inquisitive mind was never at rest, and he undertook new hobbies with great zeal, becoming an expert in short order. Over the years he mastered such diverse activities as white-water rafting, ham radio operation, photography, astronomy, radio controlled gliders, trap and skeet shooting, hunting, fly fishing, and wood working. He built computers in the basement long before the general public had ever heard about PCs. More recently he became an avid bird watcher and wine enthusiast. Always fascinated by the natural world, Bob took great delight explaining the intricacies of the universe to all willing to listen and learn. He was very interested in nutrition and medicine, and became a dedicated volunteer at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield. He also worked tirelessly for Midwestern Braille Volunteers, developing computer programs to transcribe books into braille. Bob was a loving father and is survived by three children, Robin Walsh Allison Jasper of Cushing, Oklahoma, born in 1955; Robert Niles Walsh of St. Louis, Missouri, born in 1959; and Lori Lynn Way of Fort Collins, Colorado, born in 1965. His two brothers, William S. Walsh and John L. Walsh, preceded him in death. As a scientist, Bob's final wish was to donate his body for medical research. The family requests those wanting to honor his memory make a donation to one of his favorite charities: Auxiliary of St. Luke's Hospital, Chesterfield, Missouri (314-542-4768), or Midwest Braille Volunteers, Kirkwood, Missouri (http://mbvol.org). Friends and family are invited to visit a memorial website, www.RobertJeromeWalsh.com, to share remembrances.

An accompanying article mentions that the process used a combination of chemical etching and mechanical polishing.

The final step in silicon wafer processing consists casting the molten silicon into ingots which are then zone refined. Band heaters heat a section of the vertically mounted ingot and then gradually move down the ingot allowing the upper band to cool. Impurities move with the molten segment and hence get concentrated at the bottom of the ingot. The ingot is then sliced into wafers. MEMC has often said the silicon they supplied for solar cells was rejected from the electronics quality material. Presumably that is the low purity wafers from the bottom of the stack.

Now we learn another component of the silicon process. The sliced wafers easily have scratches, The Walsh process provides a smooth surface. MEMC specializes in production of those wafers and in packaging them for handling by automated equipment.
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