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Travis Goodspeed demonstrates how to chemically remove (or ‘decap’) the plastic surrounding those delicate and incredibly cool looking wafers chips –

The following are instructions and matching photos for removing the packaging of microchips without a proper chemical laboratory. Neither a hot plate nor a fume hood is required, and the only chemicals necessary are fuming nitric acid and acetone. The result is a bare die, with bonding wires. The bonding wires may then be removed and the die photographed using microscope.

The same as any author of a lay chemistry article, I must caution you to be very careful with the procedure that I describe. If you’ve no prior experience with chemistry, purchase an introductory book and study the safety instructions thoroughly. Nitric acid in these concentrations is nasty stuff, even when cold.

Like the man said, safety first – but be sure to send us some sweet macro shots once you’re done!
[via EMSL]

Update:: In the comments, John Cabrer writes –

Actually, you can accomplish the same task using nothing more that a propane or butane torch that you can pick up at the hardware store. Everything but the silicon turns to dust. This method has the added benefit, that there are no wires remaining to remove.