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Why study silicon? It seems that the silicon IC industry is on solid ground, with record profits, and the investments made in research and development in the 1970s and 1980s have found their home in todays silicon manufacturers, EDA companies, and system companies. All true.
The research community continues to invest in the development of new materials, new device technologies (e.g. quantum well devices) and seeding new industries. However, every so often it is worthwhile being certain that one is not falling victim to the devil you know versus the devil you dont.
In this regard, it is worth noting that over the past twenty years, the industries around silicon have reinvented themselves a number of times. For example, the EDA industry has gone through at least three generations of players since the late 1970s. With each generation, the new tools, the new methodology, was the time the industry had finally reached critical mass. Every time, the industry turned over once again.
The fact is that silicon keeps changing, and the silicon-based industries of the year 2010 are likely to bear little resemblance to those of today.