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The ability of an automated laser light inspection system to screen for backside defects on silicon wafers with a variety of known visual inspection rejects from various wafer manufacturing steps was tested. The inspection tool was challenged to discriminate the defects from a variety of backside finishes commonly found on silicon wafers (polished, etched, and films). The impact of the studied defects on wafer quality and yield are discussed. We demonstrate that the unique detector and illumination design of the inspection tool offer a viable option to visual inspection.