Week 9\Microchip Images\Marian Portugal

When Professor Vesna was discussing nanotechnology during Week 9’s lectures, she mentioned how she was able to play around with micro particles, and showed us a picture of one of her creations on the powerpoint presentation.  She was able to move the particles around, and spelled out the word “desma.”  I thought it was really cool how the word “desma” was written out so clearly and with a lot of precision, despite how small the particles were.  I expected it to be kind of messy because the particles were so small.  This creation that she showed us reminded me of integrated circuits and their hidden images.

Integrated circuits, or silicon microchips, have been in use since the 1950’s.  Through the years, advancements in technology have allowed us to create chips so small, that you could fit several of them on the tip of a finger.  This decrease in size compacts more movement into each chip, and increases the amount of energy per unit of surface area.  When I tried to imagine how small these chips can be, I thought it was impossible to be able to create hidden images embedded within them too.  Dr. Vesna’s picture of the particles spelling out “desma” inspired me to talk about these images for this week’s blog. 

        I understand how technology has allowed companies to create these tiny icons in their microchips, but I did not understand how people discovered their existence.  The chip’s exterior has to first be taken off because the images are hidden behind it.  After, they use a microscope to look for specific areas on the chip that the image would most likely be found.  After that, they continually increase the magnification to take a closer look until they find the pictures.  Upon researching about these pictures, I came across a website that showed me exactly how microscopic these works of art really are.  Most of these images range from 20 to 200 microns.  One micron, or one micrometer, is one millionth of a meter.  The typical strand of hair is 88.9 micrometers in diameter.  One of the most famous micro images on a chip is the image of Waldo.  He is 50 micrometers wide, a little more than one half the width of a strand of hair. 

            It interests me how companies put these images in their microchips.  Some of the images that have shown up include Waldo, sailboats, bicycles, Kermit the Frog playing the guitar, a camel, and the cartoon character, Dilbert.  I think it shows us not only how advanced our technology is, but about the desginers’ individual creativity and character. 

According to Molecular Expressions, “chip designers have been placing cartoon characters and other images on integrated circuits for many years.”  I think it is extremely creative that these chip designers came up with this clever idea to make their mark in the most inconspicuous places.  With these microchips getting smaller and smaller, it amazes me how designers are still able to create these images.  






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