Transistors and Comet: Empowering the modern world.

June 12, 2023

In 2023, not only Comet is celebrating its 75th anniversary, but it’s also been 75 years since the invention of the transistor. These two milestones mark significant turning points in the history of technology and innovation. Transistors, one of the most pivotal inventions of all time, have enabled the functionality of countless devices that shape the modern world, including Comet’s technologies. In retribution, Comet develops products enabling technological progress in the area of semiconductor manufacturing. To celebrate that, we asked our team to share their story.

The transistor's enduring impact on the world

The transistor, invented 75 years ago, holds an esteemed position as one of the most groundbreaking technological advancements. Its function encompasses amplifying and switching electrical signals, making it the backbone of various applications. In fact, chips consist of numerous transistors densely packed together, forming complex circuits. In smartphones for example, they allow seamless processing and transmission of data, voice calls, and multimedia content. This year, the Electron Devices Society of the IEEE is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the transistor, acknowledging its enduring impact on the world.

Replica of first transistor

How transistors drive the devices that shape our society

From smartphones and computers to medical equipment and transportation systems, transistors power the devices that have become indispensable to our society. Comet, like any other company or individual, relies on transistors as end-users, utilizing them in laptops and other devices. Additionally, we employ transistors for system control in X-ray technology, RF generators and matchboxes for plasma control, which are essential components in the semiconductor industry.

During the Cold War era, Comet's vacuum capacitor business focused primarily on radio broadcast applications. However, after this period, the demand for broadcasting technologies shrank, but skyrocketed for matching networks for plasma processes. As transistors continued to shrink, conventional manufacturing methods were no longer sufficient. Plasma processes emerged as a critical technology for precision and cleanliness. This marked a turning point for Comet, as our expertise in vacuum capacitors positioned the company as leader in the industry, ensuring the successful production of advanced chips and semiconductors*.

«Without the transistor, many things would not be possible in the form we know today. One of our goals is to enable a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. It’s uncertain what is upcoming in this respect, but I am following it with great interest. What is clear is that advances will only be possible thanks to what is being researched and developed today.»

Sandro Wiedmer, Team Leader Hardware Development at Comet X-ray

*Semiconductors, typically made of materials like silicon, possess electrical properties that lie between those of conductors and insulators. This unique characteristic allows them to control the flow of electric current. By strategically placing transistors on semiconductor materials, manufacturers create integrated circuits that can perform a wide range of tasks.

«When transistors could no longer be manufactured using conventional methods, Comet was immediately on board with special vacuum capacitors for driving plasma processes.»

Thomas Fink, Senior Technology & IP Specialist at Comet PCT

Smaller transistors > smaller chips > new technologies

Within Comet, the X-ray divisions, Comet Yxlon and Comet X-ray, are also increasingly vital in the semiconductor market. As the scale for transistors and chips production becomes ever smaller and they are mounted by stacking, optical inspection finds its limits.  This is where Comet's X-ray technologies have become indispensable for semiconductor's quality assurance.

With the advent of 3D stacking in advanced packaging, CT scanning is necessary to inspect the solder joints of connections between layers. By leveraging X-ray technology, Comet ensures the early detection of faults, supporting the production of flawless and reliable semiconductor devices.

Comet's contribution to advanced chip technologies

The relationship between Comet and transistors is an interconnected cycle of innovation. Comet's technologies contribute to the creation of the newest and most advanced chips, which, in turn, are integrated into Comet's products. The evolution of power transistors, as a key component, enables energy-efficient, compact, and reliable electronic converters as a part of our X-ray generators. On the other side, digital control systems for X-ray generators are implemented in highly integrated devices consisting of a huge number of transistors per package.

As Moore's Law drives the continuous improvement of technology, Comet strives to meet evolving demands. This involves the need for more pulsed RF power, increased focus on pulse-mode tuning, and the ability to modify various parameters. This brought the team to develop Synertia®, Comet's first integrated RF Power Delivery Platform, that enables unprecedented power control. And looking ahead, X-ray inspection will play an even more significant role in helping manufacturers improve their semiconductor manufacturing processes.

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Collaboration at the heart of technological advances

Did you know? In January 1948, the invention of the transistor (junction transistor) was a collaborative effort by three pioneering scientists: John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William Shockley. These remarkable individuals not only contributed to the development of the transistor but also shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956 for their groundbreaking work. Their collective efforts revolutionized the world of electronics and laid the foundation for the technological advancements that followed.

About collaboration...

This article's contributors

Jan Tamm

Senior Product Manager, Comet Yxlon

Mike Abrecht

Senior Technology & IP Specialist, Comet PCT

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