by Paula Bosse
Here’s something you don’t see every day: a Christmas tree made from models of semiconductor crystals. I can’t even begin to understand this, so I’ll hand it over to the “explanation” seen on the card in the photo and pretend to nod knowingly. (Click picture to see larger image; transcription is below.)
SEMICONDUCTOR CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS TREE
In a 12-step cycle, the crystalline atoms light in sequence, illustrating the many planes in which they are oriented in a semiconductor crystal.
This demonstrator applies to Germanium, Silicon – both of which TI uses in its semiconductor products – Diamond, and compound semiconductors such as Indium Antimonide, Gallium Arsenide, Silicon Carbide and Zinc Sulfide.
The central yellow and blue round atoms form a “unit cell,” or basic crystalline building block.
The white round and blue conical atoms represent alloying elements producing semiconductor action and occurring only once in a thousand crystal segments this size.
Green and red atoms would be of different elements in the case of a compound crystal, or the same element in the case of a simple crystal.
MAGNIFICATION – 500 MILLION TIMES LIFE SIZE
Model manufactured by: The Thermoelectric Materials Group, Central Research Laboratory
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INCORPORATED
So … yeah. Merry Christmas from the fine folks at TI’s Thermoelectric Materials Group!
Sources & Notes
This circa-1959 photo — titled “Semiconductor Christmas Tree” — is from the RG-06 Semiconductor Group, Texas Instruments records, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo can be found on the SMU site, here.
Speaking of germanium (…there’s a phrase I’ve never used before…), SMU also has another TI photo showing a close-up of “a germanium crystal being pulled (grown) out of a crucible of molten germanium material” here. In fact, SMU’s DeGolyer Library has a whole slew of material in their Texas Instruments records — browse through the collection here.
Semiconductors, single-crystal germanium, silicon, and transistors … the world owes Dallas’ Texas Instruments a huge “thank you” for their cannot-be-overstated contribution to the development of the technology that, dare I say, changed life on earth.
One of the inventors of “single-crystal germanium” was Dr. Gordon K. Teal (1907-2003), a Dallas native whom Texas Instruments snapped up from his previous employer, Bell Laboratories. Read more about Dr. Teal’s remarkable career in an Engineering and Technology History Wiki, here, and in a portrait (literal and figurative) from Baylor University (his alma mater), here.
More about the importance and applications of “single-crystal germanium” in the new Transistor Age can be found in an interview with Dr. Teal in the Dallas Morning News article “Mighty Transistor: Dr. Gordon Teal ‘Grows’ A Gadget” by Robert Miller (DMN, Feb. 8, 1953).
Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.