Bell Telephone Laboratories (Bell Labs),
having been responsible for creating the first positive amplification
just before Christmas 1947, continued to lead the way in semiconductor research
and new product announcements for many decades. This little tidbit was
tucked away at the bottom of page 120 in the May 1954 issue of Radio &
Television News magazine. It reported on "the purest substances in the
world" being created there in the form of 99.99999999% (aka 10N) pure germanium
crystals, which are used as seed for growing boules for device production.
That's one rogue impurity atom in ten billion germanium atoms. Modern
silicon boules are typically 7N or better.
Bell Labs Germanium Refining
The purest substances in the world - 99.99999999 per-cent pure - are being made
at Bell Labs by means of a new and simple refining method developed there. These
substances have only one atom of impurity in ten billion atoms of the material -
about the same as a pinch of salt in 35 freight cars of sugar. The new process is
being used in refining germanium for transistors. W. G. Pfann, left, inventor of
the "zone-melting" process, is shown operating the equipment while J. H. Scaff holds
single crystal of purified germanium.
Posted June 4, 2020