*Previously this blog post was about PCBs and silicons. A community member pointed out that PCBs are made of fiber-glass and copper, not silicon and copper.
In an earlier blog post, we learned about the integrated circuits in Digilent Products. The integrated circuit is commonplace in the modern world, having come about almost 60 years, you can now find them in computers and mobile devices everywhere.
Integrated circuits came about when semiconductor devices replaced vacuum tubes. The semiconductor devices can replace all the capabilities of vacuum tubes, but are much smaller. Semiconductor devices are electrical components that take advantage of materials that have semiconductor properties, such as silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide.
Silicon has several properties that make it ideal for being the basis of PCBs. First off, it’s an excellent semiconductor, meaning that we can manipulate it’s electrical properties fairly easy (unlike conductors and other semiconductors). Silicon is also very stable, cheap, and easy to use. It’s been so influential in the development of electronics that we’ve named an entire region after it.
Today, monocrystalline silicon is the preferred material for the creation of silicon chips. What makes monocrystalline silicon an ideal material is its crystal structure. There are no grain boundaries inside the silicon, as these imperfections could cause reliability errors in the chips. These ingots can be up to two meters in length, and are created using the Czochralski Process.