- Silicon wafers are used as the substrates upon which over 90% of the semiconductor devices are manufactured. A series of processes are needed to manufacture silicon wafers. Some processes will induce SubSurface Damage (SSD) that should be eliminated by subsequent processes. Therefore, the assessment of SSD is critically important to optimise manufacturing processes and ensure high quality of silicon wafers. In this paper, a novel non-destructive method is introduced for measuring the SSD in silicon wafers, the cross-polarisation confocal microscopy. This paper also presents experimental results of using this method to measure the SSD in ground silicon wafers. 2006 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.