Silicon Wafer - Making a Transistor - 3 Inch, PNP


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About this Artwork:

The background image of this artwork is of the chips on the silicon wafer in this display (in the bottom right corner). The chip is a single transistor chip. Transistors are electronic switches that are the logic building blocks of today’s computers. These are PNP (as opposed to NPN) transistors. Transistors have three contacts. You see two of them as the two gold-colored aluminum contact pads. The third is actually the bottom of the chip. The blue and pink colors arise from the different types of silicon used in making the transistor. There are about 2,280 single transistor chips on this silicon wafer. In the bottom right corner of the display is a transistor-can package that would be the type used for a PNP transistor.

About Making Computer Chips:

Computer chips start out as ordinary sand, which is silicon dioxide. However, the silicon must be made very, very pure. The first step is to melt the sand, in a furnace that reaches about 3200o F, and mix with carbon. This first purification process creates 99% pure Silicon, a common output is Silicon Carbide. The Silicon Carbide is processed in a trichlorosilane distillation method to create 99.9999% pure silicon called polycrystalline silicon. The polysilicon is broken up into chunks. These chunks are melted in a crucible at about 2500o F. A silicon crystal seed is dipped in molten silicon and slowly drawn out to create a cylinder of silicon. These silicon cylinders are some of the purest crystals on the planet. Once the silicon cylinder is grown to the desired diameter, it is sawed into wafers. These wafers are polished to achieve a very flat mirror surface. Transistors, and other microelectronic parts, are built on the polished wafer in layers in a process called etching. The wafer is then sawed into its individual chips. Each chip is mounted in an electronic package that serves to protect it and connect it to the outside world. It has been said that computer chips are the greatest value-added product in the world. We essentially take a pile of sand and change it into thousands of dollars worth of computer chips.


The artwork is framed in an 8"x10" black shadow box frame, with glass. All framing materials are acid-free. A narrative about the artwork that includes the artist’s signature is placed on the back of the artwork.

Please note:  The look of the artifacts in the artworks may vary, each piece is unique.