Well-defined bands of cavities have been formed beneath the buried oxide (BOX) layer of two sets of separation-by-implantation-of-oxygen (SIMOX) wafers by H+ and He+ implantation. The gettering of Cu impurities, which were implanted into the top Si layer at different doses (5×1013, 5×1014, and 5×1015/cm2), to the cavities has been studied by secondary ion mass spectroscopy and cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy. The results indicated that the cavities induced either by H+ or He+ implantation are effective gettering centers for Cu in SIMOX wafers, and up to 4×1015/cm2 Cu has diffused through the BOX layer and been captured by the cavities. The gettering efficiency of cavities increases with the decrease of Cu implantation doses and the increase of annealing temperatures. He+ ion implantation is found to be more suitable for cavity formation and impurity gettering than H+ ion implantation. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.