The Diverse Ecology of Electronic Materials

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Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Bench to Brand and Back: The Co-Shaping of Materials and Chemists in the Twentieth Century
EditorsPierre Teissier, Cyrus C. M. Mody, Brigitte van Tiggelen
Place of PublicationNantes
PublisherCahiers Francois Viète
Pages217-241
Number of pages25
VolumeSérie III
Edition2
ISBN (Print)978-2-86939-244-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this

Mody, C. C. M. (2017). The Diverse Ecology of Electronic Materials. In P. Teissier, C. C. M. Mody, & B. V. Tiggelen (Eds.), From Bench to Brand and Back: The Co-Shaping of Materials and Chemists in the Twentieth Century (2 ed., Vol. Série III, pp. 217-241). Cahiers Francois Viète.