odd heirloom: silicon carbide tests from the '50's.

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From: Eirikur Hallgrimsson (eh@mad.scientist.com)
Date: Fri Oct 20 2000 - 23:57:09 PDT

I got the strangest gift the other day. I figured-out what it was,
even before my mother explained. It's a set of glass plate slides,
about 3 inches by 4 inches afrom a government research lab in the
1950s. My aunt Jane worked for various such places, particularly on
the "hybrid" circuits which were small 3D modules usually on a ceramic
substrate. I was young at the time (I'm young most of the time) and
don't remember much about this. Aunt Jane was no longer with us by
the time I got seriously interested in electronics. It's pretty
clear to me that these hybrid circuits are one of the paths that led
to the development of modern photo-etched chips. At the time, ladies
with very steady hands like my aunt hand assembled them under
magnification, sort of like building a ship in a bottle. You can
imagine the cost! Undoubtedly, the only real application was in
military stuff.

The shocker is what is depicted in these slides. They are before and
after microscope shots of spot-bonding hair-fine gold wires to
silicon carbide, and pulling them off to test the bonding
techniques. Yeah, you heard right, silicon carbide. The "use by"
date on the original Kodak box for the glass plates is in 1960. This
stuff was probably secret. How is it that she had these slides at
home? There really isn't anybody living to ask.

The writer in me suddenly saw one of those big conspiracy novels, one
where ARPA somehow knew that silicon carbide was the way to go
because of (pick a few) German scientists and project paperclip, the
crashed flying saucer, or....

I won't give the evidence to the Men In Black. I've never trusted


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