Finding Innovation in Old Places – Freescale Produces the First Record Album on a Silicon Wafer
Update Time: 2019-12-20 15:16:14
AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE: FSL) has engineered a modern application for a classic music format – record albums. For the first time, an eight-inch silicon wafer was programmed and etched to play a music recording, just like a vinyl record album. Developed within the Freescale Discovery Lab, this retro project demonstrates the unique expertise in Freescale’s engineering and manufacturing facilities.
A team of Freescale engineers developed a program that translated audio files to a lithographic plate, normally used for the production of microelectronics. The mask with phonograph grooves was used to process silicon wafers in Freescale’s Oak Hill Technology Fab, and create a 45 RPM record.
According to Bob Steimle, an engineer in Freescale’s Analog and Sensors group, the idea sparked when his niece created a glass casting of a 78 record as part of a year-long senior thesis project. Steimle said, “It’s a sampling of the work that’s being done at the university level, and what companies like Freescale are doing to inspire and support innovation, at every educational tier.”
The Freescale Discovery Lab, based in
Austin, Texas, was launched in 2013 as a haven for disruptive innovation. Employees are encouraged to submit ideas and, if the idea is accepted, employees work full time in the Discovery Lab to prove their concept. Within its first year, the Discovery Lab received submissions for over 200 ideas.
Since the early 1900s phonograph records have been produced from a myriad of materials but it’s the first time a phonograph groove has been etched into a silicon wafer – a more durable media according to David Kramer, director of the Freescale Discovery Lab. “Silicon won’t warp like vinyl – it could be used for nostalgia or niche products, such as platinum records.”
Freescale has no plans to market the technology, but the project serves as a test vehicle to demonstrate lithography and etch capabilities that can be used to make sensors and other novel devices – the type of innovation at work in the Freescale Discovery Lab.
About Freescale Semiconductor
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