The Secret Art Of Chip Graffiti

Chip designers have often etched whimsical imagery onto their creations, but as automated tools improved and design cycles shrank, so did companies’ tolerance for the improvised extras

11 min read
Collection of various chips showing the diversity of chip art.
Images, Top & Bottom: Michael W. Davidson/Florida State University Middle: Chipworks Inc.

Collection of various chips showing the diversity of chip art.The diversity of chip art is revealed by (counterclockwise, from top) a whale on an Allen-Bradley/Rockwell node adapter IC; Hagar of comic strip fame, found on a Nokia cell phone chip; Waldo on a MIPS microprocessor that also sported a “license plate” with the processor‘s model number and version; and a muscleman from Siemens (now Infineon) on a power controller. The muscleman and Hagar were unearthed by reverse engineers at Chipworks Inc.Images, Top & Bottom: Michael W. Davidson/Florida State University Middle: Chipworks Inc.

Mike Davidson knows art when he sees it. But he didn’t expect to see it on a microchip. One day about six years ago, the senior research engineer was quietly working away in his lab at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, taking photographs for his annual chip-shot calendar, which features microscopic images of microchips. To fit as much of a MIPS R4000 chip as possible into a single photograph, he set his high-powered Nikon FX/L optical microscope at a relatively low magnification, between 25X and 100X. Then, to make the circuitry "pop" for a more richly detailed photo, he lit large areas of the chip with a tungsten-halogen light and increased the magnification to 600X. Suddenly, he saw a face [see photo, above].

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Video Friday: Such a Showoff

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

2 min read
An animated gif showing a humanoid robot stumble and recover after doing a backflip

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, KOREA
RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, KOREA
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON
Robotics Summit & Expo: 10–11 May 2023, BOSTON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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How to Stake Electronic Components Using Adhesives

Staking provides extra mechanical support for various electronic parts

2 min read
Adhesive staking of DIP component on a circuit board using Master Bond EP17HTDA-1.

The main use for adhesive staking is to provide extra mechanical support for electronic components and other parts that may be damaged due to vibration, shock, or handling.

Master Bond

This is a sponsored article brought to you by Master Bond.

Sensitive electronic components and other parts that may be damaged due to vibration, shock, or handling can often benefit from adhesive staking. Staking provides additional mechanical reinforcement to these delicate pieces.

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