In 1996, two researchers at the Beckman Institute, Joe Lyding and Karl Hess, announced a new discovery. They had found that using deuterium to anneal computer chips (instead of the traditional hydrogen) increased their speed and reliability. I was a new employee in the Beckman Visualization Lab at the time, and as part of the effort to announce this work to the world, I (and others) went to work on an animated visualization that illustrated the discovery.
The result was a short 1:18 video that provides the layperson with a visual understanding of the process, and the changes that it could bring about. Using Silicon Graphics Workstations, Softimage 3D, Cerius^2, and an in-house molecular conversion program called mol2soft, we built molecular models of a silicon microchip and animated molecules moving through them to illustrate the process. My role was as co-director, lead animator and modeler, editor, and composer of the original soundtrack.
The video was broadcast on television worldwide, and later was selected for screening at the SIGGRAPH ’97 Computer Animation Festival, a highly competitive competition that recognizes the best animations produced in that year.
Thirteen years later, the University of Illinois finalized a licensing agreement with Samsung to utilize the technology in their microchips.
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