Electronic Design

Solid State Emerging From Infancy

Significant steps forward in solid-state electronics appeared to be the dominant theme of the recent 1961 IRE International Convention and Show in New York. Significant developments at the year's biggest electronic convention included the following:

  • Important semiconductor progress: Laminar diodes and transistors were introduced at the show by Pacific Semiconductors, Inc., Culver City, Calif. A fast switching germanium transistor designated ECDC (Electrochemical Diffused Collector) was introduced by Sprague Electronics Co., North Adams, Mass. It is said to withstand higher currents than conventional types. A new semiconductor field-effect tetrode offering very high input impedance was shown for the first time by Crystalonics, Inc., Cambridge, Mass. Epitaxial transistors also drew high interest as several varieties were shown. RCA, Somerville, N.J., announced its entry into the field, and Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., Mountain View, Calif., introduced a planar epitaxial transistor.
  • Logic circuits in transistor cans: These logic nets in TO- 5 and TO-18 cans were shown by Raytheon Corp., Boston, Fairchild, and General Instrument Corp., Newark, N.J.
  • New devices: A new flat-panel display device for moving images described by Stephen Yando, GTE Corp. Laboratories, Bayside, N.Y., uses both piezoelectric and photoelectric effects (see photo). An electroluminescent phosphor coating is applied to a ceramic plate which has electrodes at the sides. When voltage pulses are applied to the electrodes, electric fields are set up in the ceramic because of piezoelectric effects. These fields cause the phosphor coating to luminesce. Spot positions are controlled by timing of the pulses from each edge of the plate, and the spot intensity is modulated by an electric field applied to a transparent conductive coating over the electroluminescent layer. Lead zirconate-titanate was used by Yando for his experiment. A nonlinear resistance layer is included in the panel to cut off spurious effects of noninteracting signals. Trace brightness of about 0.1 ft-L and spot size of about 80 mils have been achieved.

A gallium-arsenide transducer that converts electrical energy to ultrasonic at microwave frequencies was described by a Bell Labs scientist Donald L. White. According to Mr. White, two immediate applications will be in microwave delay lines and as a scientific tool in the study of materials. (Electronic Design, April 12, 1961, p. 8)

The IRE Show in New York, with over 65,000 in attendance, was still the biggest in the electronics industry. It also was the major venue for new product announcements. The field-effect transistor and many ICs made their debut at the 1961 show.

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