Semiconductors have advanced aerospace technology and construction in ways that the original inventors of flying machines could never have imagined. A semiconductor is any substance used to conduct electrical impulses. It typically conducts these energy pulses better than an insulator but prevents power surges often associated with full conductors.
Semiconductors are integrated into a wide variety of devices in the aerospace industry. Everything in which a semiconductor is used has changed the way people fly in the skies and in space. In fact, any flight you take anywhere around the world going forward has been impacted and improved by semiconductors in the following ways.
1- Plane Tracking
Ever wonder how so many planes can take off and land at an airport without crashing into each other? Sure, it has something to do with the air traffic control towers, but how do these men and women do it? They can do what they do because semiconductors make it possible to track every plane in the air simultaneously.
Then the tracking information is conveyed to every pilot on every plane exactly what is going on in the air. Semiconductors help prevent plane crashes by aiding the computers and screens used to track air traffic in real-time. The “blips” air traffic controllers see on their screens are not delayed blips as they would have been before the introduction of computer chips made from semiconductors. The “blips” relay the actual and current position of planes in flight.
2- Aircraft Controls
Semiconductors have helped create the computer chips that make calibration, flight calculations, autopiloting, and speed corrections so simple that one wonders why training is needed to fly at all. Pilots go through years of training to fly shuttles, spacecraft, and planes. Even though computers are now at the heart of every plane dashboard, training is necessary to understand and read the dashboard computers.
In actuality, the bulk of the work is in the dashboards and control systems of these flying machines. The semiconductors used to make the computer chips and ultimately the controls help pilots fly better than they ever could before computers became part of their daily jobs.
3- Powering On and Powering Up Flight
The original flying machines, from Kitty Hawk until WWI, required enormous surges of power and speed to put them into the air and keep them there. For the Wright brothers, it was more human power than electrical. Nowadays, semiconductors create all the power necessary to jettison aircraft upward and forward. The truly amazing part is that the components in a plane’s engines that contain the semiconductors are relatively small compared to the amount of power they produce.
Ultimately, that is the goal of the aerospace industry. They want to create even more power contained in less space so that space vessels and planes can be lighter and faster than ever. Considering how far semiconductors have carried the technological advancements of aerospace now, it is highly likely that this field will succeed in their future endeavors.