Silicon Wafer Traffic Loop Detector Chips - 4 inch, Silicon Systems, Inc. (SSI)


Availability: 2 in stock

About this Artwork:

Silicon Systems Inc. (SSI), was a semiconductor company based in Tustin, California. SSI specialized in manufacturing mixed-signal integrated circuits and semiconductors, and catered to industries such as government, telecommunications, and data storage. This silicon wafer was fabricated by SSI in 1989, and contains SSI Traffic Loop Detector (TLD) chips. These chips are used in traffic signal control systems to detect the presence of vehicles. When a vehicle either passes over or halts within the detection zone of an inductive-loop detector (a wire buried in the road), it causes a reduction in the loop's inductance. This change is detected by the TLD chip as a drop in frequency, which prompts it to transmit a pulse to the control system, indicating the movement or presence of a vehicle. The wafer has about 850 TLD chips on it. Adjusted for inflation, the price per chip would be about $20, giving the wafer a value of about $17,000.

About Making Computer Chips:

Computer chips start as ordinary sand, which is silicon dioxide. The first step is to melt the sand in a furnace that reaches about 3200 degrees F. The silicon is purified to create 99.9999% pure silicon. The silicon is broken up into chunks and melted in a crucible. 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 and 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/diced into its individual chips. Each chip is mounted in an electronic package that protects it and connects it to the outside 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.