Silicon has been the dominant material in microelectronics for a half century. Other materials, however, have subsidiary roles in microelectronics manufacturing. A few materials have even been promoted as replacements for silicon. Yet because of silicon’s dominance, none of these alternatives has gone from bench to brand; nor could any of them progress from brand to bench. For these reasons, historians have paid little attention to silicon and almost none to other microelectronics materials. I show, however, that we can better understand how the organization of the semiconductor (silicon) industry has changed over time by examining alternative microelectronic materials. I do so by presenting two case studies: one of a superconducting computing program at IBM, the most likely candidate to overthrow silicon in the ‘70s; the other of carbon fullerenes, the most likely candidates to overthrow silicon today.
|Title of host publication||From Bench to Brand and Back: The Co-Shaping of Materials and Chemists in the Twentieth Century|
|Editors||Pierre Teissier, Cyrus C. M. Mody, Brigitte van Tiggelen|
|Place of Publication||Nantes|
|Publisher||Cahiers Francois Viète|
|Number of pages||25|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|