This magnificent rendition of Thor, the Norse god of thunder, was discovered on a Hewlett-Packard graphics support chip. According to legend, Thor was the son of Odin and Jord and later married Sif (a fertility goddess), although he kept a mistress named Jarnsaxa (the "iron cutlass"). It was also widely believed that during a thunderstorm, Thor could be found sailing through the heavens on his goat-powered chariot, and that lightning flashed whenever he threw his hammer (named Mjollnir).
At 1.1 square millimeters in size, this silicon artwork is not only the finest we have seen to date, it is also one of the largest and required our lowest-power microscope objective (5x) to capture the entire image. Hewlett-Packard engineer Rick Butler loaned us this chip, along with the marathon chip that contains a tennis shoe. Rick was also instrumental in providing us with information about the "sunken via" method of creating these doodles as revealed in our interactive Java tutorial on building a silicon Yin Yang, and other general discussions about silicon artwork.
Hewlett-Packard chip designer Darrin Miller originally decided to incorporate the Thor rendition on this chip. He asked graphics designer April Comer to draw the Viking and she produced four ideas about how the god could appear. Darrin picked one and turned it into a contact "bitmap" for placement on the final masks, yielding the image presented above. It is somewhat ironic that both Darrin and April are graduates of the University of Florida, our in-state football rivals.
View this silicon artwork under differential interference contrast and brightfield illumination.
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