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Lesson 6: Building Skyscrapers on a Wafer

Microprocessors

 

 

 Lesson 6: Building Skyscrapers on a Wafer

Building Skyscrapers on a Wafer

Ever hold a 20-story building in the palm of your hand? That's what it's like holding a dime-sized microprocessor with millions of transistors.

 

 

A single microprocessor is like a miniature skyscraper with stairway-like circuits between each floor. Hundreds of these "skyscrapers" can be produced on a silicon wafer at a time.

From start to finish, a microprocessor takes about 2 months to produce. Fabrication begins with a very thin slice of silicon. Over 300 manufacturing steps later, this silicon wafer holds hundreds of microprocessors. If you could enlarge the wafer to the size of a swimming pool, the surface would look like a miniature city.

Now think small and ask yourself this: How are such tiny circuits put in such a small chip? Good question. No mechanical object or pen could lay down such incredibly microscopic wires. Instead, the pathways for the current are created by using solvents to remove channels of material. These microscopic channels are then etched with chemicals and implanted with electrons to make them conduct electricity.