The Saturday Video: The Microchip

By January 21, 2006Cool Stuff Being Made

How Microchips Are MadeAh, the tiny but mighty microchip. So small yet so powerful, so central to our everyday life. This week we have an excellent animation from the good folks at NAM member Applied Materials, the largest supplier of manufacturing systems and related services to the global semiconductor industry. Founded in 1967 and honchoed for years by the legendary Jim Morgan — winner of the National Technology Medal, among scores of other honors — they produce microchips here and around the globe.

Like our video on fiber optics of a few weeks ago, it’s clear to see from this animation why manufacturing is increasingly a career for those well-versed in science and math. These are high-skill, high-end jobs. This really is a fascinating process, making things that are one micron in width (that’s 70x smaller than the width of a human hair) to things that are measured in nanometers, a thousandth of a micron, thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. The technology really is incredible for this tiny and versatile product.

Truth is, the nice Applied Materials folks sent us two animations: one of microchips and one of flat panel displays. Tune in next week to see how flat panel displays are made.

Click here to watch this week’s video and feel the manufacturing vibe.