Dear Amy: How do people make computer chips? — Aditi, Woodbury, Minn.
Dear Aditi: Everyone knows that you can find computer chips in your PC, but did you know that everyday electronic items such as programmable coffee makers and cellular phones have computer chips, too? With so many cool, innovative uses for computer chips, it is worth all the hard work that’s put into making them. Computer chips are built on a polished wafer of silicon crystal. Next, a layer of silicon dioxide glass is deposited on the wafer, and a process called photolithography is used to create circuit patterns on the chip. The process is repeated to create multiple layers of circuit patterns on the chip.
After all the circuit layers are on the chip, it must be treated with chemicals to change how electricity is conducted. Silicon is a semi-conductor that can be altered to become a conductor of electricity or an insulator, which does not conduct electricity. A final layer of conducting metal is electroplated on the wafer’s entire surface and is etched to make the electrical connections. For an illustrated and more detailed explanation of the process, visit www.sematech.org/corporate/news/mfgproc/mfgproc.htm
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