Evolution of the Semi-Conductor

  • EM Quantum Technology
Remember the large bulky television sets that radiated enormous amounts of heat? You would have thought that the warmest spot in your home was behind the TV. If you’re old enough to remember the television set with vacuum tubes you can grasp the technical map of where we are today. The Audion vacuum tube transistor was the precursor to the modern day semi-conductor. Invented in 1906 by Lee de Forest, it was used in radios and TV’s until 1970. Fast forward to 1959 when Jack Kilby files a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the first integrated circuit, which jump starts the dynamic progression of a new technology known as the semi-conductor. In 2000 Jack Kilby received the Nobel Peace Prize in Physics for his invention. To fully comprehend the blistering pace of technology, compare the vacuum tube which was the size of a plastic water bottle and represented one transistor to today’s semi-conductor, a one inch wafer that holds 3 billion transistors! But all things have an evolution unto their own, and there is a paradox in the pace of technology.

This brings us to Moore’s Law, which quantifies the rate of progress in the evolution of semi-conductors. Moore’s Law is a theory that was described in a paper written in 1965 by Gordon Moore, the founder of the Intel Corporation. The theory states that every two and a half years the capacity of a semi-conductor doubles. Moore speculated that by 1975 it would be possible to contain 65,000 components on a single quarter-inch semiconductor (now they contain 3 BILLION). But as evolution would have it there is a saturation point to this technological march. Moore’s Law also states that saturation will start when progress slows or a new technology emerges. There are two ways that semi-conductor technology could change. The first is by replacing the silicon based chip with more efficient carbon material, which is currently on the drawing board. The next would be a quantum circuit, a whole new approach to computation that we will discuss at a later date. For now we live in a world that is now faster than the speed of light.