Today, I have been assigned to a project on FINFET. The more I started reading it, a fear came in my mind…a fear when u feel u are moving towards a close-end road, to hit a brick wall..But soon the feeling disappeared… 🙂
Post 2009 economic-crisis, due to the world-wide prediction of US economical-doomsday, a dark pessimism was growing there deep inside me. The American dream was failing. Many of my seniors and acquaintances, who were considered to be the best brains for scientific research in India for their marvelous performance at high school level, started returning from U.S. I used to treat them as Semi-God in my school days, because of their sparkling achievements which I failed to touch.
The picture I obtained from them was far from being fascinating. I learned there is no more the American Dream. I learned even the best place of academic research, which was once the incubator of the great ideas and technologies that revolutionized out world and created today’s internet, digital communication etc, are no longer same. People are striving for break thorugh. Frustration and mundane research is eating a major part of the investments, even in some of the greatest places. People in top are often playing safe to save their back. Quantity vs Quality is not always being conceived properly. Production of too many PhDs, uncertain US Economy, Global Climate Crisis and recent increase in massive natural disasters in the last 5 years are all adding factors to it. Instability everywhere in the US, which was the technology leader and created the biggest scientific discoveries of 21st century is no longer the same.
These repeated views from multiple source was making me utter depressed and confused. I always had a dream for a better India and a better world. From 2000 onwards, following the success in International Space Station Missions, arrival of internet and cheaper mobile communication was making me highly optimist about that dream. I started believing of a world where poverty soon will be controlled, the walls between countries will be replaced with bridges , though internet, through people mingling with each other across borders, cultures, societies, casts. People will be more and more logical, internet will make a knowledge based society where people will strive to learn, create, achieve. The dumbness of religious rituals, caste systems and gender discrimination will be minimized, if not abolished when more and more people will become friends through social network. The curse of ignorance for regional bias, capacity/intelligence of opposite sex will be vanished eventually with that knowledge based society, people will start to depend on their intellect for their work, not their communication ability, social connections. Civilization will be driven by thinkers of creative ideas, people will stop pointing on women’s capability. All over the world, people will not only officially acknowledge men and women are equal, they will actually start to believe that. The villages in Asia and Africa will turn to be a place of serenity, instead of being doomed in the darkness of ignorance. People will express their thoughts, creativity through internet, which will provide them a platform. This will reduce frustration of those who do not like their current job and inspire them to think differently, to run after their passion for creation.
And struggle for sharing your ideas, the mundane work politics and mediocre approach towards work, the fight of feminists will also come to and end.
When Kalpana Chowla went to space in 1998 for the first time, I was so happy reading those news. Then , soon the new millennium followed. The year 2000 brought so much new hope to the world. Solving the Y2K problem, India started its journey to be the IT Giant.
I still remember those days, when computer science and Information Technology was an emerging field in South Indian colleges. However, in my place people used to laugh at student who were failed to secure a good rank in state govt. engineering colleges. Mechanical, Civil and Electrical were the craved branches. Ranks beyond 2000 was supposed to be a crime. Student studying engineering other than Jadavpur, Shibpur were a matter of laugh to the neighbor hood. Many good students, after failing to secure in those 2000, used to go to Bangalore,chennai etc, to study computer science and the local uncles used to complain how they are going to buy education, and those uncle’s sons can’t for lack of money etc etc.
And then, the mobile phones came. In Baidyabati, my original native place, when one shop opened the first cyber cafe in the locality,my friends from that “Para” were so much proud of that shop . Their prestige increased 10 fold. It was 1998. 7 years after the great man’s death. Cable tv was no longer the entertainment of people like Magan-Lal Meghraj. The world movies are in people’s drawing-room, a click away. Any body can afford to call any where in this country with in seconds, with less than 50 rupees.
Our life changed too fast in the last 13 years since then.
Just imagine, 100 years ego, if some one said ” I am a magician. I can able to tell you exactly what is happening now in front of Melborne Cricket Club, now.” Can u believe him?
Today, any body can say that with an internet connection coupled with the Google Satellite images.
Who changed the world?
How it took us to a state where we can connect with each other so much.
Silicon………………………….with its slogan of the smaller,the better.
After 500 years from now, if someone marks greatest explorations of human kind, 15th century will be marked with Euroean Adventurers, 16th-17th century with exploring basic laws of nature by Gallileo/Newton, 18th Century with the revolution of English culture, business and start of mechanical, chemical, civil and electrical engineering driven – business-based society, 19th century with colonization and further exploration of the world.
And 20th century will surely going to be marked as the beginning of exploration, not towards some land(Well, if land on moon is considered, then can surely be marked, though I have utter doubt.. 🙂 ), but to the plenty of space at bottom, and to the plenty of space to the Space.
The advancement in human civilization progressed exponentially in the last century. The two world wars, even though left their scars, actually accelerated the scientific developement across the world.
Apart from Einstein-relativity, Alan Turing and NASA-Appolo stuffs, the biggest break through came with Shanon, Moor’s Law and Boolean Algebra.
Just imagine how the world would be if there is no binary system, no NAND Gate or BJT to compute. There will be no PDAs in your hand, no more bragging or showing off your IPHONE.
Moore’s law, the law that predicted 50 years ego the amazing upcoming future in the field of semiconductor industry, stated that(excerpt form wikipedia) :
“The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year… Certainly over the short-term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years. That means by 1975, the number of components per integrated circuit for minimum cost will be 65,000. I believe that such a large circuit can be built on a single wafer.”
These all lead to the technological paradise on Earth, the Silicon Valley. We explored in the field of telecommunication, computation with the rise and rise of silicon industry.
And now, we can check how the world is doing, any time I want, with a device which is thinner than my finger, smaller than my palm.
To some people, it may come as a normal thing, a natural effect of human progress. But ask any one from those T.J.Watson laboratories, they will explain, how much fascinating it is. How they dedicated their lives behind a single lithographic process for weeks, with finding clues that led them to series of success, failures, and then finally the power to change the world.
Here I am not going to the technical details of FINFET. There are all ready plenty of research papers out there. And may be, soon I need to prepare my own notes on how FINFET works.
What prompted me to write this post is: the fact that, we are almost reaching to the level of bottoms, to the verge of saturation at atomic level. To make silicon chips smaller, we are thinning the channel, adding gates, modifying the entire gate-source-drain trio-set up to minimize the leakage as much as possible.
But it seems, we are soon going to hit the bottom, where we can no longer make it efficiently smaller. That may happen in less than 10 years. What will happen after that?
How the growth will survive?
Will the R&D growth in semiconductor will come to an end? Will innovation succumb to its saturation? Or the lucky ones out there will discover something that can actually help us to start a new journey.
They all ready started making buzz that why Silicon Valley should be afraid of China, Taiwan, India etc. Many already stated that 50 years from now, Silicon Valley will turn out to be a Rust-driven area struggling to fight the great Indian and Chinese R&D.
Well, I hate to believe this stuffs .
But it make me wonder, what we are going to do if we do not achieve comparative advancement in realizing quantum mechanical system before the silicon-driven chips come to an end. If we do not attend the feasible implementation of quantum communication devices or Quantum Computers, what will be our next hope for progress?
I have an intuition, that our future lies in the hand of people dealing with basic science, like old times. The Electrical Engineering will no longer be the most interesting stream. Or may be they will be merged with chemistry, biology etc( all ready recent research areas of many scientists in Havard, Stanford, MIT, Cambridge etc proves it). People in Chemistry, Physics and Material Science soon going to be the pioneer to show us the future path. Once again. And, on the application side, just like telecommunication grown with the advancement in silicon, the budding field of theoretical computer science, human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence will see the realization in a bigger and better way.
The merging of theoretical computer science with material science, experimental chemistry on non-linear electro-mechanical system in the research labs across top universities may bring new surprises.
The emerging field of Optical device, quantum dot based structures for optical computations may also start a new era–of light..which will be faster than ever, and may be, more energy-efficient..
Given the increased use of portable devices, another new revolution will be perhaps towards portable solar energy.