The semiconductor industry chain has influenced economics, daily life, and even education all over the world. One could say that semiconductors are an integral part of modern life. The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) is dedicated to spreading knowledge about semiconductors in order to help people understand more about Taiwan's most important industry. NARLabs' Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute (TSRI) also works to implement NSTC policy, and together with the National Library of Public Information (NPLI), has organized a special exhibition entitled "Semiconductors Everywhere - The Infinite Possibilities of Smart Living." The exhibition will be on display at the Digital Art Center on the second floor of NPLI from November 15, 2022, and will present information about the complicated technology of semiconductors in an accessible way.
To make semiconductors, raw materials such as silica sand are refined and processed in various ways to produce wafers that are used as important foundations in subsequent manufacturing. In the upstream stage of integrated circuit (IC) design, the specifications, functions, and circuit layout of the semiconductors are designed and planned. After a series of midstream manufacturing processes, a functional but fragile bare chip is produced. Then, packaging and testing in the downstream stage pROVide perfect protection for the bare chips, and defective products are screened out. Finally, the precise and powerful chips are finished, to be used in various electronics in our daily lives.
The exhibition is divided into five sections: "History of Semiconductor Circuits," "I Can Be an Engineer," "Learn IC Manufacturing," "Engineer Simulator," and "SenCu Interactive Experience." The "History of Semiconductor Circuits" section showcases information about Taiwan's semiconductor industry, its history, and key elements of semiconductor manufacturing, and includes animated explanations about the manufacturing process. Here, the public can learn about important historical events and how semiconductor chips have been manufactured over the decades. In the "I Can Be an Engineer" section, visitors can try on real clean room suits that engineers would wear.
The last three sections offer hands-on experiences. In "Learn IC Manufacturing," a rich introduction to ICs helps visitors uncover the secrets of these mysterious but omnipresent objects in our daily lives. Visitors can operate a robot arm to place wafers in corresponding processes and watch animations to learn about the technical principles related to semiconductors.
"Engineer Simulator" simulates simple tasks that an engineer carries out in a clean room. The game is played with a glove-type device that allows players to take on tasks and challenges to experience the daily life of a semiconductor engineer working in a clean room, such as repairing machines and moving wafer boxes. Interestingly, clean rooms in the IC industry are even cleaner than surgical suites, because it can take only one particle of dust to destroy a whole product. Therefore, the highest level of environmental cleanliness is required for the manufacturing process.
The last section, "SenCu Interactive Experience," showcases an imagined future where visitors can see a variety of products that use chips and use a SenCu (sensor cube) to play interactive games. In reality, the "smart living" and "smart future" we often talk about is already in progress. However, since semiconductor chips are so small, almost to the point of being invisible, we often overlook their existence.
Through this special exhibition, TSRI hopes to share with visitors the upstream, midstream, and downstream organization of the semiconductor industry, break down common and critical manufacturing principles, and let visitors see the history of semiconductor development in Taiwan. This way, people can further understand why in recent years countries around the world are competing to become the leader of the semiconductor industry.
In addition to organizing exhibitions, TSRI also continues to pROVide support to Taiwan's semiconductor industry and help cultivate talent. Students are not only able to run collaborative projects with TSRI, but are also able to participate in courses to learn and strengthen fundamental skills. In addition, students can apply to use clean rooms and operate related machinery to supplement their studies and gain hands-on experience in semiconductor manufacturing, taking their first steps in the field.