The microchips of the latest computers process about 10,000 million instructions per second. Since 1971, the number of transistors that fit on a single chip has gone from 2,000 to a surprising 500 million

A microchip can be smaller than the pinky nail, but acts like a tiny electronic brain. The most complex called microprocessors, can enclose all the processing power of a computer on a chip.

KEY FUNCTIONS

A microchip reveals its secrets by extending it 1,200 times. Transistors (in purple) are built in layers on the chip; the connecting tracks of the metal run over them. The transistors turn on and off to control the electronic signals and process thousands of data per second.

Gold microcables connect tiny electrical contact points on the edge of the chip with metal legs on its cover. Although gold is expensive, it is an excellent conductor of electricity and prevents the microchip from overheating.

The microchips are so small and fragile that you have to protect them with a plastic or ceramic cover. Each of its metal legs of the sheath that come out of its contact tip inside the chip, can be soldered in a larger electronic circuit to connect the chip to other components.

 

BEHIND ⇒
In 1958 the integrated circuit was invented, a method to reduce circuits to microchip that allowed to manufacture cheaper electronic products.

⇐ AHEADS
cientists are developing an implant for the eye that stimulates the cells that surround the retina. This could help the blind to see.

 

MANUFACTURE OF A SILICON CHIP

In microelectronics, a wafer is a thin plate of semiconductor material, such as for example silicon crystal, on which microcircuits are constructed by doping techniques (for example, diffusion or ion implantation), chemical etching and deposition of various materials.

The microchips are made with silicon. Originally, they are crystals that arise from molten silicon and become cylinders of more than 1m long and up to 30cm in diameter. Each cylinder is cut into discs called “wafers”.The silicon wafers are heated in an oven and on their surface small tracks and transients are recorded with chemical products. With a single wafer you can make hundreds of chips.Once the wafer has been checked, it is cut into a chip, each of which is inserted in a sleeve.