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Annealing, in metallurgy and materials science, is a heat treatment wherein the microstructure of a material is altered, causing changes in its properties such as strength and hardness. Typically, this results in softening of the metal through removal of crystal defects and the internal stresses which they cause. In the semiconductor industry, silicon wafers are annealed, so that dopant atoms, usually boron, phosphorus or arsenic, can be incorporated into substitutional positions in the crystal lattice, resulting in drastic changes in the electrical properties of the semiconducting material.

In the cases of copper, steel, and brass this process is performed by substantially heating the material (generally until glowing) for an extended period of time and allowing it to cool slowly. In this fashion the metal is softened and prepared for further work such as shaping, stamping, or forming

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