Semiconductors are a Major Part of Our Daily Lives
Semiconductors sound exotic and interesting. You might recognize one when you see it, but a surprising number of people would not. Chances are, you will never run down to your favorite electronics store to buy semiconductors, and if you encounter one you are not likely to know it. But you do encounter semiconductors frequently — often many times each day.
For three generations, the team at Precision Electronic Glass has been serving the semiconductor market with custom glass components that serve as motion dampers in semiconductor manufacturing. When you think of motion control in semiconductor fabrication, you probably envision robotic arms placing wafers on vacuum chucks or servo motors shifting the exposure area in step-and-scan lithography machines. But it goes well beyond process tools. Motion dampers work in the manufacturing of all aspects of semiconductors from moving pods of wafers around the facility to assembling circuit boards.
In semiconductor fabrication, time is money and yield is boss. Manufacturers must move faster, harder, and with more precision. Motion dampers help ensure products arrive undamaged to flawlessly fill dozens of unique needs in our lives.
Semiconductors at Work to Enhance Our Lives
For example, temperature sensors in air conditioners are made with semiconductors. Your personal computer has a semiconductor to prevent overheating and vibration. So many digital consumer products in daily life use semiconductors to keep them functioning better longer including smartphones, digital cameras, televisions, washing machines and dryers, ovens and refrigerators, and even LEDs. In addition to electronics, semiconductors play a central role in the functioning of ATMs, trains, the internet, and most communications. Even the medical network relies on semiconductors to keep it functioning — from filling prescriptions to monitoring neonatal patients to completing labwork, transferring and storing the results.
Furthermore, efficient logistics systems including the transportation of humans and the shipping of consumer goods and perishables rely on semiconductors to help save energy and promote the preservation of our global environment. The number of car-mounted semiconductor devices is rising. This relates especially to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems where the need is growing for semiconductors.
In virtually every way, semiconductors help us to live our comfortable lives that are based on dependable technology.
What Exactly is a Semiconductor?
Semiconductors are made of a material with unique properties in the way it reacts to electrical current. A semiconductor is a material that in some cases will conduct electricity but not in others. Good electrical conductors, like copper or silver, easily allow electricity to flow through them. Materials that block the flow of electricity, like glass, rubber or plastic, are insulators. Insulators are often used to protect people from electric shock. As the name implies, a semiconductor does not conduct as well as a conductor. Semiconductors are the foundation of modern electronics.
By the addition of different atoms into the crystal lattice (grid) of the semiconductor, it changes its conductivity by making n-type and p-type semiconductors. Silicon is the most important commercial semiconductor. However, there are others as well. They can be made into transistors, which are small amplifiers. Transistors are in computers, mobile phones, digital audio players, and many other electronic devices.
A Brief History of Semiconductors and the Role of Custom Glass
A semiconductor was foundational to one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. It is in a transistor demonstrated in 1947 by John Bardeen and Walter Brittain. The did so with support from colleague William Shockley, at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. The transistor, aka point-contact transistor, is a semiconductor device that can amplify or switch electrical signals. It replaces bulky vacuum tubes. Just a few years later it would lead to the development of the transistor radio. Small enough to be portable, this transistor radio would change the mobility of music and communications forever.
During this same time period, as radios became part of our cars and a critical tool in the trucking industry, John Rossie founded Precision Electronic Glass in 1962 in Vineland, New Jersey. Specialty glass components for electricity and electronics, such as insulators and motion dampers, are designed to fit the exacting needs of emerging technologies across a range of industries. The Rossi family’s custom glass company grew quickly to meet the rapidly evolving needs of technology.
SIA Leaders Approach Congress for Added Research Funding
Many have wonder what next for the semiconductor industry when it comes to new growth. Trade issues and fewer investments in research added to a decline in sales over the past six months. However, the future is looking very bright for semiconductors thanks to emerging technologies. The year prior to the pandemic, CEO and President John Neuffer of the Semiconductor Industry Association approached Congress with a request to triple the federal investment in semiconductor research.“America is in a race with global competitors to win the technologies of the future, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G and 6G wireless networks. Semiconductor innovation is the engine that drives all these promising technologies. As Congress turns to the budget, setting aside research funds to keep America the world leader in semiconductor technology is critical,” said the SIA release.
Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning are Future of Semiconductors
According to the industry outlook from McKinsey and Company, the narrative for semiconductor companies will be strong with the growth of artificial intelligence (AI)—typically defined as the ability of a machine to perform cognitive functions associated with human minds, such as perceiving, reasoning, and learning. Many AI applications have gained a wide following, including virtual assistants like Alexa or Siri and facial-recognition programs. These different solutions and developing AI applications have in common the hardware to enable innovative logic and memory functions.
What will this development mean for semiconductor sales and revenues? McKinsey examined opportunities for semiconductor companies across the entire technology stack. McKinsey reported the analysis revealed three important findings:
- AI could allow semiconductor companies to capture 40-50% of total value from the technology stack. McKinsey says this represents the best opportunity they’ve had in decades.
- Storage will experience the highest growth, but semiconductor companies will capture most value in compute, memory, and networking.
- To avoid mistakes of limited value capture, semiconductor companies must undertake a new value-creation strategy. Focus on enabling customized, end-to-end solutions for specific industries.
The McKinsey team believes there is a strong opportunity for semiconductor leaders and those who serve this industry. As a result, they are creating a new road map for winning in AI and DL. With the advance of evolved semiconductors, Precision Electronic Glass will continue to customize motion dampers to ensure flawless results.
PEG’s mission is to provide customized glass and quartz products and related products and services to OEMs and distributors around the world in countries where our customers operate. Therefore, our objective is to fabricate the finest precision glass and quartz components and assemblies to customers’ specifications. Working together with customers, PEG manufactures prototypes; handles small to large production runs; performs value-added assembly, and provides cleanroom processing when specifications dictate the need for it.
We utilize standard or computer-controlled glass lathe fabrication; glass-to-glass and glass-to-metal graded seals; shrinking, cutting and end finishing, and precision grinding/polishing. Subsequently, PEG produces a variety of components and value-added assemblies, including medical, dental, or industrial glass X-ray tubes, and CO2 or HeNe lasers. Similarly, we produce all glass and quartz fabrications in facilities certified to ISO 9001:2015 standards of quality. Our commitment to quality and integrity in everything we do is reflected in our mission statement, corporate values, and quality policy.