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A Revolutionary Chipmaking Technique?

A top maker of lithographic systems and its partner have a new concept for maskless lithography

3 min read

A method to remove the masks�and millions of dollars in costs�from some optical chipmaking processes is under development at a pair of European companies, and while it's not "smoke and mirrors," the idea is, in fact, to do it all with mirrors.

Photolithography uses a mask, or reticle, with the pattern for a computer chip etched into it. Laser light shining through the mask exposes a light-sensitive material on the surface of a silicon wafer, inscribing the lines that make up the transistors on the chip, much like a negative in photography. Each reticle contains the pattern for only part of the semiconductor wafer, and usually several reticles are used for different layers of circuits.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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