The Space Shuttle

The Space Shuttle

A nice rendition of the space shuttle was captured orbiting a Texas Instruments Advanced Schottky Digital Bipolar Logic integrated circuit. We photographed the shuttle with Differential Interference Contrast (DIC - likewise for the rest of the Silicon Zoo) microscopy using a retardation plate to render a bluish-tinge to the image to simulate orbiting in space. Imperfections in the smooth silicon surface appear as "stars" surrounding the shuttle. Note the jagged edge at the bottom of the photomicrograph where the chip was cut from a wafer using a diamond saw. Russell Crecraft, an engineer who once worked for Texas Instruments, alerted us to the existence of this doodle.

We have observed several variations of the space shuttle artwork on these logic circuits, probably due to mask modifications and upgrades through the years. There is no copyright date on these chips, but mask variations are evident in the numbering schemes used and emblazoned onto the surface.

  • Damaged space shuttle - This version of the shuttle was blistered when recovering the chip from its epoxy housing.

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