Electronic Design

Design '61: Semiconductor Devices

Skepticism is growing on the predicted role of tunnel diodes in future electronic equipment designs. The devices, available in production quantities for more than a year, still have not found their place in equipment.

Engineers working on current versions of medium- and relatively low-speed computers are apparently content with the operation, reliability, and price of available switching transistors. Why, they argue, spend considerable time and effort to apply a new device with high-speed characteristics to a medium-speed machine when the pricing will probably go up and reliability will have to be proven?

Epitaxial transistors are beginning to take hold. In late 1960, several manufacturers announced the availability of germanium and silicon epitaxial transistors. The devices were being offered only months after Bell Laboratories' introduction of the epitaxial growth technique, which offers an order of magnitude increase in switching speed, low collector resistance and high breakdown voltage compared with conventional transistors.

Production problems involved in the deposition process are rapidly being overcome. With the higher-yield output envisioned for epitaxial devices, industry spokesmen indicate that the price of epitaxials will be no higher, and perhaps lower, than that of conventionally made transistors. Thus widespread applications are expected soon. (Electronic Design, Jan. 4, 1961, p. 56)

Little more than a decade after the commercial introduction of point-contact transistors, the epitaxial transistor demonstrated that the technology was beginning to mature. Processes were coming under control and learning-curve pricing began to take effect.—Steve Scrupski

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