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BYU students etch the entire Book of Mormon onto a microchip wafer

Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 29, 2022

PROVO, Utah — BYU students may have made the world's smallest Book of Mormon etched onto a wafer used for computer microchips.

Created by students from BYU's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, all 291,652 words were etched onto a 4-inch diameter wafer. A layer of gold was then evaporated onto the wafer.

According to BYU professor Aaron Hawkins, the idea was presented as a fun summer project that has just begun wrapping up.

"It sounded like a fun thing to do kind of an outreach activity," said professor Hawkins. "Let people visualize how small these things are that we're making and how this technology works.

Silicon wafers are what are used to eventually make chips, which are used by every electronic device from smartphones to satellites. Once the circuitry is etched onto the wafer, it is then cut into tiny parts to be used for electronic devices.

This process of etching the circuitry onto the wafer was the same technique used, only this time to write the Book of Mormon onto the wafer.

While a few copies were eventually made, one such copy will be on display in the Clyde Engineering Building on campus at BYU.

"The original Book of Mormon was originally etched into gold, more solid layers of gold," said professor Hawkins. "So now we are coming full circle and putting it in silicon but then plating it in gold to give you the same look and feel."

The purpose of a 100 nanometer-thin layer of gold in microchips also serves a practical purpose, as it is a fairly corrode-resistant material that is conductive to electricity.

"This technique is done on every electronic circuit in the world. We put down these thin layers of metal in order to connect things together," said Hawkins. "So totally standard, but it is pretty cool to see it."

According to professor Hawkins, as long as the wafers themself do not break, the etching should preserve the text for possibly millions of years.

"Maybe we'll send a copy to the first presidency for Christmas," he said.