Before the Dawn of Molecular Electronics

Adegboyega, G.A. (2000-07-11)


Today, civilization has passed the threshold of the second industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution which was based upon the steam engine, enabled man to multiply his physical capacity to do work. The second Industrial revolution, which is based upon semiconductor (or solid-state) electronics, is enabling man to multiply his intellectual capabilities. In other words, what technology has done to the world to modernize it is what solid-state electronics is doing to technology. Ultra large scale integration (ULSI) electronics, as it is presently termed, is the most advanced state of semiconductor electronics, and represents a remarkable application of scientific knowledge to the requirements of technology. In this lecture, we will highlight the past and present stages of development of this science and technology and elucidate the trend for the future of what is becoming a giant scale integration electronics. In addition, we will highlight Nigeria's position in the acquisition of this technology and proffer the way forward. Electronics, by definition, is that field of science and engineering that deals with electron devices and their utilisation. An electron device is one in which conduction is principally by electrons moving through a vacuum, gas or semiconductor. In elementary science, we say matter is made up of gas, liquid or solid. Electrically, the solid can be classified as a conductor, a semiconductor or an insulator. This lecture will deal, in the main, with the art, science and technology of semiconductor devices fabrication. Having said this, I must be quick to add that semiconductor devices cannot be fabricated in the absence of the conductor and the insulator. Neither will it be possible to fabricate semiconductor devices without the use of liquids and gases. What we are, therefore, dealing with here is an encompassing materials science with a special emphasis on semiconductor devices.