The Ever-Shrinking World Vol: 2

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August 12, 2021

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Back in June of this year, we spoke about the growing trend of shrinking the world around us. However, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Modern tech is borrowing more ideas from science fiction at an alarming rate. Currently, the wafer industry has been kept busy with silicon wafer processing for nanotechnology.

What is Nanotechnology? 

A bare-bones definition is the science, study, and application of microscopic tools and technologies. Emphasis on application, as this technology can't be seen with the human eye, but their use spans many industries. Nanotech is used in the following:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Engineering
  • Materials science

It all started on December 29, 1959, when the word “nanotechnology” didn't exist just yet. Physicist Richard Feynman envisioned a world where scientists and physicists could manipulate and interact with individual atoms. As revolutionary as those sounds, he dreamed this in a time before powerful microscopes were invented. Over two decades later, the tools were finally in place, and the real work began. The term nanotechnology was born, and strides were finally taken to start the project. No matter who you ask, nanotech began in the early '80s, despite its conception in the late fifties. 

The True Origin of Nanoscience

Let's take a step back for a moment before diving into the technical side of nanotech. Recently, studies are showing that nanoscience may have been around far longer than the last 60 years. In fact, some famous artwork around the world may be early examples. Back in the 10th century, stained glass windows were very popular in churches and homes. Scientists have just realized the true nature in which these were created. Each stained glass contained gold and silver nanoparticles which reflected red and yellow lights, allowing the stained glass to look the way it does. Furthermore, nanotechnology was a staple in middle eastern warfare between the 12th-18th centuries. These people found a way to sharpen their blades more efficiently than their western enemies. Both of these discoveries open the doors to many exciting possibilities today. 

Silicon Wafer Processing

How Small is Nanotechnology?

It's almost impossible for the average person to comprehend just how minuscule this technology truly is. Spread your index finger and thumb a mere inch apart. From finger to finger, that's over 25 billion nanometers. 

How Are Wafers Used in Nanotechnology?

As with all technologies, large or small, they wouldn't be very useful without inner processing components. Despite these being scaled back, efficiency isn't lacking. As semiconductors shrink, they gain efficiency and perform better than their larger counterparts. Now keep in mind that every gadget, gizmo, and electronic device require inner components to function. This includes diodes, transistors, semiconductors, and of course, silicon wafers. Processing these tiny components is no easy feat, yet technology is growing and thriving with the benefit of today's modern technological advances.  In the past, gold has been used in areas of interconnecting in this budding industry. However, with the price of gold continuing to rise, the implementation of silicon wafers is increasing. Studies show that these wafers mimic the conductivity and efficacy of gold and are starting to prove more reliable and stable. How semiconductors function in this application is truly impressive. They are ballistic semiconductors that exhibit quantum behavior and sport an incredibly low electrical resistance.  Figuring out how to craft such highly efficient semiconductors on a nanoscale allows greater insight into creating more effective semiconductors for other uses. Scientists hope to improve the functionality and speed of all semiconductors in the future, and this work begins with overhauling silicon wafers.

Why Study Nanoscience?

Atoms are everywhere. They're in the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and the food we eat. No matter what or who we look at or touch, everything is made up of millions, if not billions of atoms. If human nature has taught us anything, it's that people have a yearning for control. Since domesticating animals, what is the next biggest accomplishment toward the goal of self-preservation and dominance? 

Medicine

One of the first industries that have a glaring need for this technology is the medical field. Scientists working on the project hope this will give the human race an edge against cancer and finally have a better solution for those who desperately need it. Let's explore medicine delivery. The hope of nanotech here is the seamless and flawless delivery of drugs, heat, or other nutrients to specific cells. For this to work, each nanoparticle is designed to seek out specific diseased cells, allowing for zero collateral damage. In the future, scientists hope to expand efforts toward disease detection.

Transportation

Every aspect of the transportation field evolves with nanotech, from chassis construction to fuel economy and even lower emissions. With the added pressures of combating global warming, car companies such as Toyota, GM, Ford, among others, are implementing nanotech. Here are some known components that utilize this new technology:

  • Fuel cells
  • Power systems
  • Heat transfers
  • Displays and lighting
  • Sensors 
  • Body components

The Future of Nanotechnology

To the dismay of many, the worlds of nanotech and artificial intelligence are already being combined. Imagine microscopic self-aware robots doing tasks for humans that we can't easily do on our own. This opens even more doors for various fields such as medicine and engineering, just to name two. To date, nanotechnology is showing promise when it comes to repairing broken bones. However, diagnosing fractures isn't an exact science, and sometimes physicians may overlook breaks and fractures. This is where AI steps in and shines. While not a tried-and-true method yet, artificial intelligence is undergoing testing with the hopes of it aiding in diagnosis. Perhaps in the future, artificially intelligent nanoscopic robots will be deployed to correct broken bones noninvasively, potentially leading to quicker recovery times.

Silicon Wafer Processing

Interested in Learning More About Silicon Wafer Processing?

The most crucial aspect of everything discussed today is the silicon wafer. Without it, no project will be underway. Contact us today to learn about our many different wafer offerings and discover which will be the best for your upcoming project.