The microscopic fractured edge of a piece of semiconductor looms like an enormous cliff face. However, this entire view would fit easily inside the diameter of a single human hair. At the top of the cliff is a rough dark layer, the remains of a protective layer that we bombarded with high-energy plasma. In regions where there had been no protective layer, we found that the plasma had eaten away at the semiconductor. That told us the information we were looking for, in this quick test - that the plasma etch had worked as hoped, and in a pleasingly spectacular fashion.

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