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A Quantum Leap for the Computer and Electronics Industries
Scientists have produced a method for making electrical components within diamond. A proton beam is used to burn channels into diamond crystal. The protons convert the targeted areas into channels of amorphous carbon or graphite, both of which materials are excellent conductors of electricity. The electricity-conducting channels (separated by electrically insulating diamond) can be made into any desired three-dimensional configuration, including whole circuit boards. While pure diamond is not a good conductor of electricity, the creation of electrically conductive zones within diamond offers excellent conductivity in combination with the advantages of diamond's superior properties. Owing to diamond's superior physical properties, diamond microcircuitry is an excellent conductor of heat. It is fireproof, strong, impact-resistant, lightweight, durable, and its optical properties allow it to withstand ionizing radiation far better than today's electronic components. Recent developments in the commercial-scale production of diamond sheeting make diamond microcircuitry a viable and economical technology. A Quantum Leap for the Computer Industry: Whole circuit boards with localized conductive zones (conductive paths for interconnecting electronic components) will work in closely-packed, heat-generating environments. Computers will be much smaller, operate at higher speed and current, be more free of heat build-up, and be much more resistant to high voltage surges. The properties of diamond microcircuitry render today's technology obsolete. While IBM's new copper connections for computer chips are an excellent refinement in current technology, diamond microcircuitry is a
quantum leap. The graphite zones replace today's circuit board conductors and connectors (presently made of aluminum or copper) and allow for extremely compact chip sockets devoid of metallic connectors. Benefits for Other Industries that Utilize Electronics: The automobile industry and all industries that utilize either internal combustion or turbine engines, which can produce high levels of heat, can install diamond microcircuitry based sensors. Communications satellites and space vehicles can benefit because diamond microcircuitry is less sensitive than conventional solidstate circuitry to the periodic solar bursts of ionizing radiation that cause communications failures. Diamond microcircuitry presents a whole new concept for making solidstate electronic components, affording a major technological advance in electronics. Reduced Size: Circuit boards can be smaller and more light weight. Computer chips can be closely packed onto diamond film microcircuitry, because the graphite zones reaching the surface of the diamond replace metallic connectors. Computer chips can be packed together more densely because of diamond's high heat conductivity and greater electrical breakdown field. Higher Speed: Diamond has higher electron and hole mobility which, when combined with higher electric fields, will result in higher speed computer components. More Heat Transfer: From mini-computers to super-computers, all computers can take advantage of the greater thermal conductivity of diamond, so that closely-packed computer components will be more easily cooled. Owing to the high heat conductivity of diamond and its wide bandgap, about twice as wide as that of SiC, diamond-based electrical devices will work at higher ambient temperatures.
Higher Current: Circuit boards will be made of extremely strong, electrically conductive fiber-like channels of amorphous carbon that are separated by electrically insulating diamond. High thermal conductivity will make diamond-based integrated circuits able to operate at higher currents than is possible for other materials, including IBM's new computer chips with copper connections. Diamond-based semiconductor devices excel over today's silicon and silicon carbide (SiC). Although the maximum operating temperatures for SiC and diamond are comparable, diamond will operate at higher voltages because its bandgap is almost twice as large. More Surge Protection: Diamond's wide bandgap allows it to operate at higher voltages, making diamond microcircuitry substantially more resistant to large voltage surges. Diamond Microcircuitry was invented by Dr. Gisela A. Dreschhoff and Dr. Edward J. Zeller, who was formerly the Director of the Radiation Physics Laboratory of the Space Technology Center at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence. Dr. Gisela Dreschhoff is now the Director of the Radiation Physics Laboratory.
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cellular phones. CD players. The microprocessor is an integrated circuit that processes all information in the computer. games and the operating system. It keeps track of what keys are pressed and if the mouse has been moved. You find several of them in computers. It counts numbers and runs programs. most people have probably heard about the microprocessor. But what is an integrated circuit and what is the history behind it? . television sets. Integrated circuits are also found in almost every modern electrical device such as cars. etc.• • • • • • • Relativity Semiconductors Star Stories Structure of Matter The Quantised World Transistors Vacuum Tubes X-rays7 o Chemistry Prize Related o Medicine Prize Related o Literature Prize Related o Peace Prize Related o Prize in Economic Sciences Related Short about the Nobel Prize Alfred Nobel's Life and Work Teachers' Questionnaire The History of the Integrated Circuit Integrated Circuits Our world is full of integrated circuits. For example.
resistors. So why was the vacuum tube replaced by the transistor? There are several reasons. These components have different behaviors. It is used for example in computers to store information. among other things. everything from a burglar alarm to a computer microprocessor can be constructed. capacitors and diodes. or amplify a current.org Electric Circuits The integrated circuit is nothing more than a very advanced electric circuit. Depending on how the components are put together when building the circuit. to control the volume in television sets or radios. The resistor limits the flow of electricity and gives us the possibility to control the amount of current that is allowed to pass. The transistor acts like a switch. it generates a lot of heat and has a tendency to burn out. The capacitor collects electricity and releases it all in one quick burst. compared to the transistor it is slow. Just as the transistor. . This is used in. The vacuum tube looks and behaves very much like a light bulb. The Transistor vs. the vacuum tube can switch electricity on or off.Photo: Nobelprize. or it can amplify current. big and bulky. The diode stops electricity under some conditions and allows it to pass only when these conditions change. It can turn electricity on or off. the Vacuum Tube Of the components mentioned above. Also. These components are like the building blocks in an electrical construction kit. Resistors are used. for example. the transistor is the most important one for the development of modern computers. or in stereo amplifiers to make the sound signal stronger. like for instance in cameras where a tiny battery can provide enough energy to fire the flashbulb. engineers had to use vacuum tubes. that are connected to each other in different ways. photocells where a light beam that is broken triggers the diode to stop electricity from flowing through it. Before the transistor. An electric circuit is made from different electrical components such as transistors.
Photo: Nobelprize. for example. If the components of the computer were too large or the wires interconnecting them too long. It had around 18. it is very important that all connections are intact. like a computer. reliable and effective. fast. assembly workers had to construct circuits by hand. for example. electrical engineers of the 50s saw the possibilities of constructing far more advanced circuits than before.org ENIAC-The first digital computer Photo: U. . was a huge monster that weighed over thirty tons. they quickly became aware of its limitations. soldering each component in place and connecting them with metal wires. a computer would be impossible. So there was a problem of numbers. When the transistor was invented in 1947 it was considered a revolution. making it very unreliable. Before the integrated circuit. However. The first digital computer ENIAC. making the circuit fail. and consumed 200 kilowatts of electrical power. the electrical current will be stopped on its way through the circuit. problems started arising. Small. or could they? The Tyranny of Numbers With the small and effective transistor at their hands. Advanced circuits contained so many components and connections that they were virtually impossible to build. especially without generating a single faulty connection. it quickly replaced the vacuum tube. Another problem was the size of the circuits. was dependent on speed. the electric signals couldn't travel fast enough through the circuit. engineers finally could begin to realize the electrical constructions of their dreams. This problem was known as the tyranny of numbers. A complex circuit. thus making the computer too slow to be effective. Freed from the limitations of the vacuum tube.The vacuum tube and the transistor.000 vacuum tubes that constantly burned out. Engineers soon realized that manually assembling the vast number of tiny components needed in. If not. as the complexity of the circuits grew.S Army When engineers tried to build complex circuits using the vacuum tube. When building a circuit.
When the rest of the workers returned from vacation. By making all the parts out of the same block of material and adding the metal needed to connect them as a layer on top of it.Jack Kilby's Chip . It was tested and it worked perfectly! Although the first integrated circuit was pretty crude and had some problems. Jack Kilby is probably most famous for his invention of the integrated circuit. among other things. the idea was groundbreaking. . for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in the year 2000. Working alone in the lab.the Monolithic Idea Jack S Kilby Kilbys first chip Photo: Texas Instruments Photo: Texas Instruments In the summer of 1958 Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments found a solution to this problem. there was no more need for individual discrete components. he led the team that invented the hand-held calculator. In September 1958. Kilby presented his new idea to his superiors. He was newly employed and had been set to work on a project to build smaller electrical circuits. Kilby's idea was to make all the components and the chip out of the same block (monolith) of semiconductor material. He was allowed to build a test version of his circuit. he had his first integrated circuit ready. However. he saw an opportunity to find a solution of his own to the miniaturization problem. No more wires and components had to be assembled manually. Kilby had no vacation like the rest of the staff. The circuits could be made smaller and the manufacturing process could be automated. the path that Texas Instruments had chosen for its miniaturization project didn't seem to be the right one to Kilby. Because he was newly employed. After his success with the integrated circuit Kilby stayed with Texas Instruments and.
This made the integrated circuit more suitable for mass production. Chip Production Today .in Short Stepping.Robert Noyce Robert Noyce Photo: Intel Museum Archives Robert Noyce came up with his own idea for the integrated circuit. Robert Noyce also was one of the co-founders of Intel. This was done by adding the metal as a final layer and then removing some of it so that the wires needed to connect the components were formed. mainly the problem of interconnecting all the components on the chip. Noyce's circuit solved several practical problems that Kilby's circuit had. Intel is one of the largest manufacturers of integrated circuits in the world. Besides being one of the early pioneers of the integrated circuit. He did it half a year later than Jack Kilby. .
chip after chip can be made using the same mask each time. A new layer of material is added. the metal not protected with film is removed to form the wires. Finally. Next. a process called "stepping" is often used. The film is developed and the unexposed parts are removed. the areas hit by light are removed. Next. the unprotected areas are processed so their electrical properties change. the chip is tested and packaged. Below is a more sequential description of the process of making a modern integrated circuit. On a big wafer of silicon the chips are made one next to the other. However. The mask describes the parts of the chip and the UV-light will only hit the areas not covered by the mask. Just as before. Now the chip has unprotected and protected areas forming a pattern that is the first step to the final components of the chip. When making chips today. The Clean Room Child facing "bunny suit" Photo: Intel Museum Archives . The silicon wafer is moved in steps under the mask and the UV-light to expose the wafer. In this way. When the film is developed. and the entire process is then repeated to build the circuit. this time the mask used describes the layout of the wires connecting all the parts of the chip.the clean room. But let us first take a look at the special place where integrated circuits are produced . layer by layer. a layer of photosensitive film is applied and exposed through a mask. When all the components have been made and the circuit is complete a layer of metal is added. In photolithography a high energy UV-light is shone through a mask onto a slice of silicon covered with a photosensitive film.Chip production today is based on photolithography.
the production of a chip demands precision at an atomic level. Under precisely monitored conditions. you add metal to connect the components and then you test and package the chip. With sizes this small. Chip Production Today ." These protective outfits are made of ultra clean material and sometimes have their own air filtering systems. From the construction plans. front end and back end.The sizes of the components on chips produced in a modern chip fabrication plant are extremely small. a speck of dust. you need a construction plan to construct a chip. chip production takes place in a clean room. On this tiny area. . Circuit manufacturing demands the use of crystals with an extremely high grade of perfection. Front End – Construction of the Components 1. you make the components of the circuit. 2. 3. pick a hair from your head and cut it in half. To further prevent contamination. where furniture is built from special materials that don't give off particles. masks with the circuit patterns are made. and where extremely effective air filters and air circulation systems change the air completely up to ten times a minute. In the back end. Now look at the cross section. workers wear special suits called "bunny suits. For a better understanding of how small they are. a dead skin cell. a pure silicon crystal is grown. Below is a simplified description of the steps. hard to see with the bare eye. you can fit thousands of modern transistors. This is a specially designed room. The construction plans for the chip are made and tested with a computer.in Detail Building an integrated circuit like a computer chip is a very complex process. Therefore. bacteria or even the single particles in tobacco smoke become huge objects that are big enough to ruin a chip. In the front end. Tiny particles like a hair. Just as in building a house. It is divided into two major parts.
The wafers are then polished in a number of steps until their surface has a perfect mirror-like finish 5." This removes the unprotected insulating material. The silicon is sawed into thin wafers with a diamond saw. 8. This material.4. metal is added to connect the components to each other in a process called metalization. the protective material breaks apart. Finally. 10. On the parts of the chip that are hit by light. 6. UV-light is shone through a mask and onto the chip. The wafer is run through a process that alters the electrical properties of the unprotected areas of the wafer. 7. Other layers of conducting or isolating layers may also be added to make the components. when all the components of the chip are ready. The development process removes the parts of the protective material exposed to light. creating a pattern of non-protected silicon wafer parts surrounded by areas protected by silicon oxide. The silicon wafer is covered with a layer of insulating silicon oxide. 9. The wafer is treated with chemicals in a process called "etching. This is done in a way similar to the making of the components. Back End – Adding the Connecting Wires 11. layer by layer. . a bit like the film in any ordinary camera. This process is called "doping. The wafer is developed." Steps 5-10 are repeated to build the integrated circuit. First a conducting metal like copper is deposited over the chip. is sensitive to light. rinsed and baked. A covering film of protective material is put on top of the insulating silicon oxide.
16.12. UV-light is shone through this mask. Of course. to add the second layer we had to go through the same steps as when adding the first layer of metal. Another step of etching removes the metal not protected by photo resist. a layer of insulating material is put between the two metal layers to prevent the wires from connecting in the wrong places. Now. The chips on the wafer are separated with a diamond saw to form individual integrated circuits. 13. 18. This leaves a pattern of metal that is the same as the one described by the mask. The light hits the photo resist that isn't protected by the mask. Advanced circuits may need up to five different layers of metal to form all the necessary connections. 17. 19. Next. In the next step. the chip has a layer of wires that connect its different components. . When the final layer of connecting metal wires have been added. Today. the chips on the silicon wafer are tested to see if they perform as intended. In the last picture we have added another layer of metal to our example. chemicals are used to remove the photo resist hit by UV-light. most integrated circuits need more than one layer of wires. a mask that describes the desired layout of the metal wires connecting the components of the chip is used. 15. As you can see. On top of the metal a layer of UV-sensitive photo resist is added. 14.
His idea founded a new industry and is the key element behind our computerized society. which means that you could fit hundreds of these transistors inside a red blood cell. The chip is now finished and ready to be shipped to manufacturers of digital devices around the world.00009 millimeters*. a Rolls Royce would get a half a million miles per gallon."** . Finally. The Evolution of the Integrated Circuit The integrated circuit has come a long way since Jack Kilby's first prototype. Jack Kilby examines a wafer filled with chips. each chip is packed into the protective casing and subjected to another series of tests. "If the auto industry advanced as rapidly as the semiconductor industry.20. one of the early integrated circuit pioneers and founders of Intel once said. Gordon Moore. Photo: Texas Instruments Each year computer chips become more powerful yet cheaper than the year before. and it would be cheaper to throw it away than to park it. Today the most advanced circuits contain several hundred millions of components on an area no larger than a fingernail. that is 0. The transistors on these chips are around 90 nm.
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