General Science, Mathematics, and Technology


What is a silicon chip?

A silicon chip is an almost pure piece of silicon, usually less than one centimeter square and about half a millimeter thick. It contains hundreds of thousands of miniaturized electronic circuit components, mainly transistors, packed and interconnected in layers beneath the surface. These components can perform control, logic, and memory functions. There is a grid of thin metallic strips on the surface of the chip; these wires are used for electrical connections to other devices. The silicon chip was developed independently by two researchers: Jack Kilby (1923–2005) of Texas Instruments in 1958, and Robert Noyce (1927–1990) of Fairchild Semiconductor in 1959. Jack Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000 for his discovery of the silicon chip.

While silicon chips are essential to almost all computer operations today, a myriad of other devices depend on them as well, including calculators, microwave ovens, automobiles, and VCRs.


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