The Computer Society: The Art of Chip Making

No other manufacturing process is quite like it. Only a single speck of dust can ruin a chip, so work must be done in "clean rooms," where the air is constantly filtered and workers are swathed in surgical-type garb.

Some 250 chips are made from one razor-thin wafer of precisely polished silicon about 3 in. in diameter. These wafers, in turn, are sliced from cylinders of extremely pure (99.9%) crystalline silicon, grown somewhat like rock candy. Why silicon? Because it can be either electrically conducting or nonconducting, depending on the impurities added to it....

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