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CPUs under the microscope - literally

Posted on 30th Mar 2010 at 10:27 by Alex Watson with 11 comments

Alex Watson
What I love most about photography is the way it can show aspects of the world that are invisible to regular human vision - timelapse, x-ray, macro, lenses with a wider angle than the eye - are fascinating.

Tom Royal, an old colleague of mine, who now works at Computer Active, has found a microscope and taken some great photos of a variety of techy bits and pieces with it.

The images are fascinating and reveal some surprising details - such as the fact the pins of an Athlon CPU are actually made from two different materials, as you can clearly see here:

CPUs under the microscope - literally

The full set is well worth checking out on Flickr, and you can also see how Tom and his colleague Anthony took the pictures with this annotated image on Flickr.

11 Comments

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Dave Lister 30th March 2010, 10:43 Quote
Very interesting but could some of those not have been done with just the macro mode on the camera without the need for a microscope ?
Skiddywinks 30th March 2010, 10:55 Quote
Be nice if I had even the slightest idea what I was looking at. Some are obvious, but that is some serious zoom.
wuyanxu 30th March 2010, 11:00 Quote
very nice high quality photos, but to actually look at the gates, you got to take off the protective silicon cap, pretty much impossible, best to just get a custom one manufactured.

BBC's Invisible World by Richard Hammond will be on tonight or tomorrow. it will feature our Southampton University's clean room and electronics under microscope. have a look, should be good, it's filed in the best university in the world :D
Xir 30th March 2010, 11:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
...but to actually look at the gates, you got to take off the protective silicon cap, pretty much impossible

Naah, you back polish the silicon, it's not that hard. :D
You can poilsh away the contact side as well, seeing every layer seperately, taking EDX materialsamples while you do it...
Does the term "reverse Engineering" mean anything to you? :D

For home use: then polish up and look into it sideways.
wuyanxu 30th March 2010, 13:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
Naah, you back polish the silicon, it's not that hard. :D
You can poilsh away the contact side as well, seeing every layer seperately, taking EDX materialsamples while you do it...
Does the term "reverse Engineering" mean anything to you? :D

For home use: then polish up and look into it sideways.
didn't knew that, always gone "forward engineering" way.
paisa666 30th March 2010, 14:34 Quote
look at the scratches on the tip of that pin.... that's some nice super ZOOM there :D
Farfalho 30th March 2010, 18:40 Quote
Kewl, going to have a check at it
Xir 31st March 2010, 12:22 Quote
It's not as easy as it sounds.
Sure you get the design and what it's made of, the real problem is how the material got where it is in the state it's in :D
wuyanxu 31st March 2010, 14:23 Quote
BBC's Invisible Worlds

The start is where Richard goes to Uni. of Southampton New Mountbatten Building clean rooms, with (from what i can hear) Prof. Darren Bagnall, in Nano research group.

it's a shame no electronics, just used the powerful microscope. guess everyone knows what electronics look like at gates level, so they didn't bother to show it.
Sifter3000 31st March 2010, 20:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
BBC's Invisible Worlds

The start is where Richard goes to Uni. of Southampton New Mountbatten Building clean rooms, with (from what i can hear) Prof. Darren Bagnall, in Nano research group.

it's a shame no electronics, just used the powerful microscope. guess everyone knows what electronics look like at gates level, so they didn't bother to show it.

Nice, I'll check that out!
BLC 3rd April 2010, 11:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
BBC's Invisible Worlds

The start is where Richard goes to Uni. of Southampton New Mountbatten Building clean rooms, with (from what i can hear) Prof. Darren Bagnall, in Nano research group.

it's a shame no electronics, just used the powerful microscope. guess everyone knows what electronics look like at gates level, so they didn't bother to show it.

Ugh, good lord, please don't watch that series. Yes, there's some great shots and really interesting footage, but the explanations are a little on the "Daily Mail" side. I.e., dumbed down way beyond the BBCs usually low standards. Plus, it's really misleading and overhyped. Richard Hammond is really starting to get on my nerves now.

The Wonders of the Solar System was a big win. Invisible Worlds was not.

EDIT: Those photos are quite cool though :) ;)
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