The Art of Failure 2014

Failure-analysis experts find some funny stuff in semiconductors

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The Art of Failure 2014
Image: Lew Li Lian/GlobalFoundries

Photo: Lew Li Lian/GlobalFoundries
Birdie in the Hole: This little bird sits contentedly under the microscope’s gaze, but it didn’t fly there on its own. According to Lew Li Lian from GlobalFoundries, in Singapore, “A particle in the hole caused a cavity formation in the precoat material, resembling a birdie.” It won first prize at the 2014 IEEE International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits (IPFA) Art of Failure Analysis contest.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

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A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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