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Silicon Earth


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Book Review

J.D. Cressler, Silicon Earth: Introduction to the Microelectronics and Nanotechnology Revolution, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, 2009, 524 pages.

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We are in the swirling center of the most life-changing technological revolution the Earth has ever known. In only 60 years, a blink of the eye in human history, a single technological invention has launched the mythical thousand ships, producing the most sweeping and pervasive set of changes ever to wash over humankind; changes that are reshaping the very core of human existence, on a global scale, and at a relentlessly accelerating pace. And we are just at the very beginning. Silicon Earth introduces readers with little or no technical background to the many marvels of microelectronics and nanotechnology, using easy, nonintimidating language and an intuitive approach with minimal math. The general scientific and engineering underpinnings of microelectronics and nanotechnology are addressed, as well as how this new technological revolution is transforming a broad array of interdisciplinary fields, and civilization as a whole. Special “widget deconstruction” chapters address the inner workings of ubiquitous micro/nano-enabled pieces of technology such as cell phones, flash drives, GPS, DVDs, and digital cameras.

Contents by Chapter:

The Communications Revolution
1.1 The big picture
1.2 The evolution of human communications
1.3 Doomsday scenarios
1.4 Global information flow
1.5 Evolutionary trends: Moore’s law
1.6 Silicon: The master enabler
1.7 Micro/nanoelectronics at the state-of-the-art: 90-nm
complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor technology
1.8 A parting shot

A Matter of Scale
2.1 The tyranny of numbers
2.2 “Seeing” versus “imaging” the infinitesimal
2.3 The distance scale of the universe
2.4 The micro/nanoelectronics distance scale
2.5 The time and frequency scales of micro/nanoelectronics
2.6 The temperature and energy scales of micro/nanoelectronics
2.7 Seeing is believing?

Widget Deconstruction #1: Cell Phone
3.1 With a broad brush
3.2 Nuts and bolts
3.3 Where are the integrated circuits and what do they do?

Innumerable Biographies: A Brief History of the Field
4.1 What history can teach us
4.2 The uniqueness of microelectronics
4.3 The shoulders we stand on
4.4 The invention–discovery of the transistor
4.5 Newsflash!
4.6 How the West was won
4.7 The integrated circuit
4.8 The rest of the story

Semiconductors – Lite!
5.1 What are semiconductors?
5.2 What makes semi-conductors so special?
5.3 Types of semiconductors
5.4 Crystal structure
5.5 Energy bands
5.6 Electrons and holes
5.7 Doping
5.8 Drift and diffusion transport
5.9 Generation and recombination
5.10 Semiconductor equations of state

Widget Deconstruction #2: USB Flash Drive
6.1 With a broad brush
6.2 Nuts and bolts
6.3 Where are the integrated circuits and what do they do?

Bricks and Mortar: Micro/Nanoelectronics Fabrication
7.1 The IC fabrication facility (aka “the cleanroom”)
7.2 Crystal growth and epitaxy
7.3 Doping: Diffusion, implantation, and annealing
7.4 Oxidation and film deposition
7.5 Etching and polishing
7.6 Photolithography
7.7 Metallization and interconnects
7.8 Building Mr. Transistor
7.9 IC packaging: Wirebonds, cans, DIPs, and flip-chips
7.10 Reliability

Transistors – Lite!
8.1 The semiconductor device menagerie
8.2 Why are transistors so darn useful?
8.3 The pn junction
8.4 The BJT
8.5 The MOSFET
8.6 X-Men transistors

Microtools and Toys: MEMS, NEMS, and BioMEMS
9.1 Micro-intuition and the science of miniaturization
9.2 MEMS classifications
9.3 A grab bag of MEMS toys
9.4 Micromachining silicon
9.5 Cool app #1 – MEMS accelerometers
9.6 Cool app #2 – MEMS micromirror displays
9.7 Cool app #3 – BioMEMS

Widget Deconstruction #3: GPS
10.1 With a broad brush
10.2 Nuts and bolts
10.3 Where are the integrated circuits and what do they do?

Let There Be Light: The Bright World of Photonics
11.1 Let there be light!
11.2 Spectral windows
11.3 Getting light in and out of semiconductors
11.4 Photodetectors and solar cells
11.5 CCD imagers, CMOS imagers, and the digital camera
11.6 LEDs, laser diodes, and fiber optics
11.7 CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray

The Nanoworld: Fact and Fiction
12.1 Nanotech, nanobots, and gray goo
12.2 Say what you mean and mean what you say: Nanotech definitions
12.3 Darwinian evolution in microelectronics: The end of the silicon
12.4 Buckyballs, nanotubes, and graphene
12.5 Emerging nanoapps

The Gathering Storm: Societal Transformations and Some Food
for Thought

13.1 The Internet: Killer app …with a dark side
13.2 E-addictions: E-mail, cell phones, and PDAs
13.3 Gaming and aggressive behavior: A causal link?
13.4 The human genome, cloning, and bioethics
13.5 The changing face of education
13.6 The evolution of social media
13.7 E-activism and e-politics
13.8 The web we weave: IC environmental impact

1. Properties of Silicon
2. Some Basic Concepts from Physics and Electrical Engineering
2.1 Energy
2.2 Force and the theory of everything
2.3 Electrons, quantum mechanics, and Coulomb’s law
2.4 Voltage, circuits, field, current, and Ohm’s law
3. Electronic Circuits, Boolean Algebra, and Digital Logic
4. A Grab-Bag Glossary of Useful Techno-Geek Terms and Acronyms