Semiconductor: We are overly dependent on Technology. This assertion, without foundation for some and axiom for others, can be used to exemplify the latest crisis hitting the technology sector. A crisis that has not yet erupted, but that is looming on the horizon. A crisis caused by the global shortage of semiconductors.
What is a semiconductor?
According to a book definition, a semiconductor is “a substance that behaves as a conductor or as an insulator depending on the conditions of electric field, magnetic field, pressure, radiation or ambient temperature”. A semiconductor electronic component is one that uses the electrical properties of semiconductor materials, mainly silicon, germanium and gallium arsenide, as well as organic semiconductors.
The most common semiconductor component is the MOSFET transistor, although there are many other semiconductor devices such as diodes, BJTs, IGBTs, thyristors, etc. Its construction involves multiple steps, days and experts in the field. For example, the latest IBM chip contains 50 billion transistors in a two-nanometer space the size of a fingernail.
2020, the origin
How has this historical crisis started? We are in March – April 2020. The entire world is ravaged by the Chinese Wuhan pandemic. In all countries, factories are closed, shipments are paralyzed and assembly lines are emptied. Nothing works, although in the following weeks and months, in China they begin to get out of the problem and their factories, indispensable for Western technology companies, are working again.
The chains resume, but the consequences are already guessed. Consequences like the future iPhone 12, which for the first time in years will be delayed at its usual post-summer date.
Months go by, and although we continue to deal with the Coronavirus, companies are getting back on track. Mobile phones, tablets, 4K TVs, vehicles, video game consoles are reassembled. And all this has among its essential components one piece: semiconductors. Factories, brands and companies place large orders for semiconductors, but suddenly there are not enough to supply the demand.