2007 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show - Nanotech 2007 - 10th Annual

Monolithic Concept and the Inventions of Integrated Circuits by Kilby and Noyce

A.N. Saxena
Rensselaer International Science Company, US

integrated circuits, monolithic concept, IC

Getting history right is an important matter. It is in that spirit that this paper has been written about the invention of integrated circuits (ICs) as an eyewitness to, and from the first hand knowledge as a participant in, the development of the materials and technologies of ICs from their inception to the current stage of Ultra Large Scale ICs (ULSICs) and beyond. The invention of ICs has been one of the most important inventions of the 20th century which has revolutionized mankind forever. They are used worldwide in many fields and applications: education, research, computers, medicine, internet, nanotechnology, biotechnology, government and others, and in every commercial, industrial and defense industries. Almost nothing is possible nowadays without using the ICs. Therefore it is important to know who invented them and how. The issues in the inventions of ICs by Kilby, Noyce and the others are intricately entwined technically, chronologically, and legally patent wise. To understand them, it is critical to know what are monolithic-ICs which are the only kind sold from the inception in the IC industry, and how do hybrid-ICs differ from them. A brief account of their key facts including recent communications with USPTO in 2005, which have not been published before, will be given. The debate over who invented what kind of IC will be resolved by the facts presented in this paper. In some respects, Kilby and Noyce have been denied their due recognitions, and in some other respects they have been given more credit in the entire field than they are due. It will become clear that the key concepts for the monolithic-IC were first documented by Noyce, even though the reduction to practice of his invention was done by others, and it depended crucially on Hoerni's and Lehovec's inventions. While Kilby's invention was not for monolithic-IC, he did anticipate some of the monolithic concepts for the devices and their isolation in an IC. But Kilby missed the key concepts of monolithic interconnects and planar technology necessary to fabricate monolithic-IC. The reduction to practice was done by Kilby using Ge mesa technology and wire bonded interconnects dangling above the chip which are not used in monolithic-ICs. Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2000, and he is generally regarded as the inventor of ICs, implying monolithic-ICs, which is not pedantically accurate. Historians and journalists who have not been in the IC field are apt to glamorize and romanticize its success stories, probably because it is ''politically right thing to do''. The ''law of the famous'' is generally upheld, so the famous are given most if not all the credit, and a large number of the others who also made key contributions to the success are ignored. However, for a scientist and an engineer, the documented facts and data are the key criteria to judge who did what? That is the only way history can be set right.

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