A Fourth State Of Matter

Nicholson Baker, The New Yorker:

We passed a recreation area, with air hockey and video games and a restaurant, and rode the elevator up to the third level of the P7 building. At the end of a short hallway, we stopped in front of a glass viewing wall. Pictures were forbidden here. “This is it,” Kim said. We gazed through the glass at the Piranesian vastitude of one part of the factory — an ultra-clean metropolis of automated modules, silver ducts, and rectilinear interconnections, all lit by a straw-colored light, in the midst of which a multiply jointed robot the size of a tree was nimbly sliding six-foot-long slabs of almost paper-thin mother glass into and out of the narrow inlets in something that looked like a pizza oven, except much bigger. The robot arm, fitted with what seemed to be faintly hissing suction cups, never hesitated, never paused to consider its next move. Inside the pizza oven, the glass received its subpixel matrix of color filters, using a photolithographic process of masking and deposition and removal. Each glass sheet shuddered slightly as it was turned this way and that, in the impossibly fragile manner of airborne soap bubbles, and my own arms kept going out toward it, as if to save the sheet from crashing to the floor — but, of course, no glass crashed. This was the place that made all Best Buys possible.

Glad I found this gem. Written on July 8, 2013 about liquid crystals, which some consider a fourth state of matter. This quote is regarding Baker’s visit to LG Display’s Paju cluster, specifically about the P7 manufacturing line.