Sam Zeloof is a high school student from Flemington, New Jersey. Apart from being a student, he is obsessed with electronics and works on them with a passion. He has managed to construct a semiconductor fabrication lab in his parent’s garage and wants to build integrated circuits in there. He made the lab from spare parts and some materials that he bought off eBay. According to the teenager, making the chips would be useful as a “way of trying to learn what’s going on inside semiconductors and transistors.”
Like most DIY experiments, he began his journey by going through lots and lots of research material. “I started reading old books and old patents because the newer books explain processes that require very expensive equipment,” says the teenager.
While researching the projects he came across Jeri Ellsworth YouTube channel who documents DIY science experiments. One of these videos explained how to make a silicon transistor. “After I saw [Ellsworth’s] videos I started to make a plan of how I could actually start to do this,” says Zeloof.
Just because he found a video on how to make one didn’t make the task simple. It still took him three months to copy Ellsworth’s transistors as he slowly began to grasp the working of the tiny chips. Zeloof describes his initial chip building adventures as “That was getting my feet wet and learning the processes and everything, and acquiring all the equipment. My goals from there were to build on what she did and make actual ICs.”
So far, Zeloof has managed to make some simple integrated circuits with a few components but he doesn’t plan to stop there. He has his eyes set on the ur-microprocessor released by Intel 4004 in 1971. “It’s got about 2,000 transistors at 10 micrometers… I think that’s very attainable,” says the enthusiastic high schooler.
As his journey to make the integrated circuits continues, he is constantly adding new equipment to his lab and says. “Acquiring all the equipment and building and fixing all the stuff I take off eBay is half of the whole journey.”
You can take a look at his impressive lab in the video below: