1833 - First Semiconductor Effect was Recorded
Michael Faraday describes the "extraordinary case" of his discovery of electrical conduction increasing with temperature in silver sulfide crystals. This is the opposite to that observed in copper and other metals. We now understand that raising the temperature of most semiconductors increases the density of charge carriers inside them and hence their conductivity. This effect is used to make thermistors – special resistors that exhibit a decrease in electrical resistance (or an increase in conductivity) with an increase in temperature.
1926 - Field Effect Semiconductor Device Concepts Patented
Polish-American physicist and inventor Julius E. Lilienfeld filed a patent in 1926, "Method and Apparatus for Controlling Electric Currents," in which he proposed a three-electrode structure using copper-sulfide semiconductor material. Today this device would be called a field-effect transistor.
1940 - Discovery of the p-n Junction
Russell Ohl discovers the p-n junction and photovoltaic effects in silicon that lead to the development of junction transistors and solar cells. In the mid-1930s Russell Ohl, an electrochemist at Bell Telephone Labs in Holmdel, NJ, began investigating the use of silicon rectifiers as radar detectors. He found that increasing the silicon purity helped improve their detection ability. On 23 February 1940, he tested a small silicon slab that yielded strange, surprising results. When exposed to bright light, the current flowing through the slab jumped appreciably. Ohl had discovered the photovoltaic effect that powers today’s solar cells.
1947 - Invention of the Point-Contact Transistor
A point-contact transistor was the first type of solid-state electronic transistor ever constructed. It was made by researchers John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain at Bell Laboratories in December 1947. They worked in a group led by physicist William Bradford Shockley. The group had been working together on experiments and theories of electric field effects in solid state materials, with the aim of replacing vacuum tubes with a smaller, less power-consuming device. Shockley was not involved in the invention, and has never been listed on patent applications.
1948 - Conception of the Junction Transistor
William Shockley conceives an improved transistor structure based on a theoretical understanding of the p-n junction effect. Shockley disagreed with Bardeen’s explanation of how their transistor worked. He claimed that positively charged holes could also penetrate through the bulk germanium material - not only trickle along a surface layer. Called "minority carrier injection," this phenomenon was crucial to operation of his junction transistor, a three-layer sandwich of n-type and p-type semiconductors separated by p-n junctions. This is how all "bipolar" junction transistors work today.
1958 - Tunnel Diode Promises a High-Speed Semiconductor Switch
At a June 1958 conference in Brussels, Leo Esaki reported on a new diode he had developed at Sony in which the current decreased as the voltage increased, effectively exhibiting "negative resistance." The Esaki or tunnel diode, named for the quantum-mechanical tunneling effect it exploited, offered fast switching speed with very low power consumption. Leo Esaki’s novel device is an example of many celebrated semiconductor breakthroughs that do not sustain their early promise as they are overtaken by competing technologies.
1958 -The first working integrated circuit was created by Jack Kilby
On September 12, 1958, Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments built a circuit using germanium mesa p-n-p transistor slices he had etched to form transistor, capacitor, and resistor elements. Using fine gold "flying-wires" he connected the separate elements into an oscillator circuit. Jack Kilby produces a microcircuit with both active and passive components fabricated from semiconductor material.
1959 - Practical Monolithic Integrated Circuit Concept Patented
Fairchild co-founder Robert Noyce conceived the idea for a monolithic integrated circuit (IC). By interconnecting diodes, transistors, resistors and capacitors diffused into the silicon with aluminum metal lines deposited on top of the protective oxide coating, one could configure complete electrical circuits on a single silicon chip. By eliminating the "flying-wire" connections, this would yield a practical method of manufacturing Jack Kilby's solid circuits.
1960 - Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Transistor Demonstrated
John Atalla and Dawon Kahng fabricate working transistors and demonstrate the first successful MOS field-effect amplifier, which had been long anticipated by Lilienfeld, Heil, Shockley and others by overcoming the "surface states" that blocked electric fields from penetrating into the semiconductor material.
1963 - Complementary MOS Circuit Configuration is Invented
In a 1963 conference paper C. T. Sah and Frank Wanlass of the Fairchild R & D Laboratory showed that logic circuits combining p-channel and n-channel MOS transistors in a complementary symmetry circuit configuration drew close to zero power in standby mode. Wanlass patented the idea that today is called CMOS.
1964 - First Commercial MOS IC Introduced
General Microelectronics uses a Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (MOS) process to pack more transistors on a chip than bipolar ICs and builds the first calculator chip set using the technology. General Microelectronics introduced the first commercial MOS integrated circuit in 1964 when Robert Norman used a 2-phase clock scheme to design a 20-bit shift register using 120 p-channel transistors.
1965 - "Moore's Law" Predicts the Future of Integrated Circuits
Gordon Moore, Fairchild Semiconductor’s Director of R&D, wrote an internal paper in which he drew a line through five points representing the number of components per integrated circuit for minimum cost per component developed between 1959 and 1964. "The Future of Integrated Electronics" attempted to predict "the development of integrated electronics for perhaps the next ten years." Extrapolating the trend to 1975 he projected that the number of components per chip would reach 65,000; a doubling every 12 months.
1974 - Scaling of IC Process Design Rules Quantified
Scaling principles were described in 1972 papers by Bruce Hoeneisen and Carver Mead of Caltech and by IBM's Robert Dennard and his colleagues. But it was a 1974 paper by Dennard, et. al. that caught the attention of the industry with a resulting profound effect on microelectronics. Robert Dennard’s paper on process scaling on MOS memories accelerates a global race to shrink physical dimensions and manufacture ever more complex integrated circuits. They noted that as the horizontal dimensions of a transistor were scaled by a factor, speed improved by that same factor.
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