The rationale and development of a wafer-scale three-dimensional (3-D) integrated circuit technology are described. The essential elements of the 3-D technology are integrated circuit fabrication on silicon-on-insulator wafers, precision wafer-wafer alignment using an in-house-developed alignment system, low-temperature wafer-wafer bonding to transfer and stack active circuit layers, and interconnection of the circuit layers with dense-vertical connections with sub-[Omega] 3-D via resistances. The 3-D integration process is described as well as the properties of the four enabling technologies. The wafer-scale 3-D technology imposes constraints on the placement of the first lithographic level in a wafer-stepper process. Control of wafer distortion and wafer bow is required to achieve submicrometer vertical vias. Three-tier digital and analog 3-D circuits were designed and fabricated. The performance characteristics of a 3-D ring oscillator, a 1024 x 1024 visible imager with an 8-um pixel pitch, and a 64 x 64 Geiger-mode laser radar chip are described.