English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The semiconductor industry calls the cuts of a crystal die or dice. Is this term outside of semiconducting industries correct too?

For example, a crystal has been cut into small plates. What are the plates called then?

share|improve this question
I think in most cases a lapidarist would be trying to "cut" the largest single gemstone he could from an original uncut stone. But most of the cutting is actually grinding with an abrasive wheel, so the leftover bits would be dust, rather than chippings (or whatever they'd call the bigger leftover bits :) – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '12 at 0:02
I'm not going to read all this (about how synthetic rubies are made), but I bet they don't normally make big ones and then cut off bits to be used separately. I'm pretty sure it'll be the same as artificial diamonds - it's harder to make big ones, so you only make them as big as your industrial application requires. Totally different to semiconductor wafers, where they make a big sheet with lots of independent circuits, because it's most cost-effective for that technology. – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '12 at 0:08
@FumbleFingers my question was rather on the correct term for the "part i cutted off" - not on cutting technology – Jonas Stein Nov 14 '12 at 0:28
@FumbleFingers - if you HAD read that whole thing (I found it fascinating!) you'd have run across this passage: "One such improvement, developed by the Linde Division of Union Carbine Corporation, modified Verneuil's flame fusion process to grow thin rods of ruby crystals up to 30 in (750 mm) long. Such rods can easily be sliced into disks to produce large quantities of bearings." So, not a totally academic question. – MT_Head Nov 14 '12 at 0:55
Not an answer but a comment. In case of small parts left over after obtaining the required larger piece from the stock, the term offcuts is widely used. However, it is possible the term is used in the diamond or other related industries for child products. – Kris Nov 14 '12 at 6:39
up vote 1 down vote accepted

In this context, the term "die" really only applies to the semiconductor industry. Depending on the industry, the terms "slice" or "sheet" might be better suited.

In your example of crystals, if you are specifically referring to piezoelectric crystals of the variety used in the semiconductor industry, the process involves dicing quartz plates in to what are known as "blanks", the blanks are then lapped and further processed before grading and finishing up as what's called a "quartz oscillator-plate" or "piezoid".

share|improve this answer

Back 1972-1974 I worked in the RCA CMOS LSI design shop in Camden NJ. The slices of semiconductor we used (but never actually touched) were referred to as wafers. I don't recall ever hearing another term used. We worked with both silicon and sapphire wafers. (Our shop never worked with germanium, that I know of.)

(Of course, this term applies to a thin, flat, uniform slice, used for integrated circuits and solar cells, not random bits chopped off while forming, say, a ruby into a multi-faceted gemstone.)

A piece of a wafer is called a "die" (and is produced by "dicing" the wafer, after the desired circuitry is first printed/baked onto the semiconductor surface.) My understanding is that that term comes originally from the cook's action of dicing vegetables, not the cubic piece used in gambling.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.