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For many decades now we’ve been melting sand and making it think. The current photolithography process for making microchips, such as the CPU and GPU inside your PC, dates back to around 1977, and involves painting light-sensitive chemicals onto a wafer of silicon, then shining UV lasers through a mask so that they mark the chip’s pathways into the chemical, then a bath in something nasty that dissolves the top layer of silicon not protected by photoresist. The process has been evolving, but now it’s starting to reach the end of its useful life.

Why? Because chip pathways

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