Tuesday, 16 April 2013 21:15
Imagine, if you will, a futuristic surgery theater. A surgeon sits before a sprawling bank of monitors showing images of her patient that have been magnified to sizes tens or hundreds of thousands of times larger than they would appear to her naked eye. She rests her fingers delicately on a panel of knobs, sliders, and joysticks, carefully adjusting each input to calibrate her instruments. A few moments of fine tuning and the target of her procedure crystallizes into focus: a microscopic defect that, despite its size, seriously threatens the patient’s life. She quickly drafts a surgical plan on the image; instead of forceps or a scalpel, she brings a tightly focused particle beam to bear, making infinitesimally small, precisely placed incisions isolating the anomalous target from its surroundings. A quick twiddle of the controls and the energy beam becomes a tool for reconstruction instead of excision; the surgeon deftly reroutes the affected parts of the patient’s anatomy to circumvent the faulty material, ensuring a full recovery. What may seem to be a scene ripped from the annals of schlocky science fiction may ring truer than one might expect, given one key disclosure: our patient is not a living being, but is rather an integrated circuit, wrought in silicon and metal. Our surgeon’s tool was a focused ion beam (FIB) system; the procedure she executed was not a heart bypass or tumor biopsy, but an example of FIB isolation and editing, one of many electronics failure analysis services offered by IAL.