Extreme variations in surface reflectivity/topography have been observed on silicon wafers with evaporated aluminum metallization following thermal annealing processes. Such topographic variations negatively impacted the performance of wire bonder pattern recognition systems. It was proposed that this variation was attributed to differences in deposition rates during evaporation of the aluminum front metallization. SEM analysis revealed that the topographically rough sites, deemed as normal for this processing sequence, had large numbers of hillocks, while the smooth sites exhibited limited numbers of hillocks after heat treatment. SIMS depth profiling analyses did not indicate that any elemental difference existed between the smooth and the rough sites, although interfacial differences were detected. Specifically, the Al-Si interface for the rough surface was more graded in nature while the Al-Si interface for the smooth surface was more abrupt. TEM analysis of the rough sites revealed that a three-dimensional island growth mechanism prevailed during film growth, resulting in uneven surface development, whereas analysis of the smooth sites showed a columnar grain structure.