The Semiconductor Revolution

 

Researcher in Lab

 

J.J. Thomson, the man who discovered the electron in 1898, had a favorite tongue-in-cheek toast: "To the electron. May it never be of any use to anybody."

Today, of course, the electron is of use to everybody - thanks to electron tubes and semiconductor devices, which have unique properties for controlling electron flow. CSL explored new manufacturing processes for these semiconductor devices.

Building on a Crystal Foundation
CSL was among the first university laboratories to begin research in molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). MBE and MOCVD were valuable new processes for growing semiconductor crystals. These crystal lattices form the foundation for many electronic and photonic (light) devices, such as lasers in CD players and fiber optic lines.

Ion Implantation
CSL demonstrated that ion implantation can be used with compound semiconductors, such as the technologically important gallium arsenide.

Ion implantation, a vital step in the microchip manufacturing process, changes the electrical characteristics of precise areas on a wafer of semiconductor material. Prior to this research, it was believed that radiation damage would prevent ion implantation in compound semiconductors from achieving the same dramatic success as in silicon.

Glow Discharge Optical Spectroscopy
CSL developed glow discharge optical spectroscopy, a technique for measuring trace concentrations in metal and semiconductor materials.

Real Space Transfer
While working on the transport of electrons in thin layers of semiconductors, researchers developed the idea of real space transfer. This concept is basic to the theory of high-speed (heterolayer) transistors.

Acoustic Surface Wave Devices
CSL began research on acoustic surface wave devices - an innovative technique in which acoustic surface waves are propagated along the surface of a crystal. This technique is still used today to filter signals in TV sets.