[M80604]锗和硅的趣味故事

编注:科学的故事也可以写得那么有趣


1954 年,晶体管业蓬勃发展,计算机的处理能力提升了好几个数量级,还出现了新的产业,例如便携式收音机。不过繁荣之中,工程师从没忘记向硅暗送秋波。他们之所以这样做,部分是因为锗的性质不太稳定。锗的导电性很好,所以会产生不必要的热量,导致晶体管过热停机。更重要的是,硅是沙子的主要成分,它的价格当真是贱比泥土。科学家们仍保持着对锗的忠诚,可他们有太多时间魂不守舍,惦记着硅。

在那年的一场半导体贸易展会上,有人发表了硅晶体管不可行的悲观演说。突然间,一位来自得克萨斯的工程师站了起来,他厚颜无耻地宣布自己包里就26 元素的盛宴有一个硅晶体管。大家想看看吗?这位 P.T. 巴纳姆——他的真名叫戈登·蒂尔——将一台使用锗晶体管的电唱机连到外置扬声器上,然后颇富中古色彩地把电唱机的内部构件扔进了一桶沸腾的油里。不出所料,电唱机噎住没声音了。蒂尔把构件捞出来,拆下锗晶体管,换上了自己带来的硅晶体管,然后又扑通一声把它扔回油桶里。音乐仍在继续。会议厅里的销售员们蜂拥向大厅后面的付费电话,从这一刻起,锗被大众抛弃了。

资料来源:摘选自《元素的盛宴:化学奇谈与日常生活》

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