Maarten Vanden Eynde

Silicon Age

Silicon ingot, bas relief image, 145 x 15 x 15 cm.

Since the beginning of the digital revolution, microchips made of silicon have consistently been shrunk to smaller and smaller sizes. Moore’s Law, articulated in 1965 by Gordon Moore, predicted that the number of transistors one can fit on a microchip will double every 18 to 24 months, constantly increasing computer speed and efficiency. By the beginning of the 21st century the traditional chip circuitry made of silicon is too microscopic to work reliably, marking the end of the silicon age.

Over 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust, after oxygen. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. 

Silicon Age consists of a pure silicon ingot or boule, using the Czochralski process to obtain 99,99999% pure single crystals. It is the basic material in the production of integrated circuits used in computers, TVs, mobile phones and all types of electronic equipment and semiconductor devices. Mono-crystalline silicon is also used in large quantities by the photovoltaic industry for the production of conventional solar cells. On one side the image of the first monolithic silicon integrated circuit chip, invented by Robert Noyce of Fairchild in 1961, is engraved as a bas-relief. On the other side the crystal comes to a natural end, the point where it cannot get any smaller.