The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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The Art of Failure 2010

The beauty-and creepiness-of chip defects

1 min read

Image: Rahmat Agung Susantyoko
This year’s first-prize winner in the “Art of Failure Analysis” contest is an image of a bed of 0.13-micrometer-wide “nanoflowers” sitting on a silicon substrate. The flowers “blossomed” when an array of vertically oriented silicon nanowires bent from their original upright position. Rahmat Agung Susantyoko, who took the image, was given the task of monitoring the height of arrays of silicon nanowires. Nanowires of a certain height bent together to form the flowers.

Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one person’s systems failure is another one’s masterpiece. This is the third year that the “Art of Failure Analysis”was featured at the IEEE International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits (IPFA). Participants submitted the most intriguing images they’d captured during chip autopsies. Favorite pictures from the collection, which range from charming to just plain creepy, were on display at the symposium from 5 to 9 July in Singapore.

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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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