Potato Chip Macrochip Is a Chip on a Chip

Potato clocks are practically a rite of passage for young students around the globe. They’re a fun project that teaches kids about the basics of circuit theory and what a battery is, and the silliness of powering something with a potato is hard to resist (get it? Ohm’an). But, what about using a potato chip as the actual physical structure of your next project?

When Steven Dufresne came across Potato Semiconductor Corporation (a microchip manufacturer), he couldn’t help but build a project on a potato chip. For his chip-on-a-chip project, he decided to go with a simple 555 timer circuit with a piezo buzzer tied to a photoresistor. The first step, however, was to turn the potato chip into a viable structural component.

To accomplish that, he covered the potato chip (plain old Classic Lays if you’re wondering) in multiple layers of epoxy resin. This gave it enough strength to support the components he needed to mount to it. Using Classic Lays wasn’t a completely arbitrary choice either, because Steven needed to make sure the chip itself wouldn’t be conductive (a possibility on salty chips).

With a framework for the potato chip-chip ready, he just needed to drill some holes and connect the components of the circuit together. For power, he modified a small pet toy laser pointer to act as a battery case. When powered up, the circuit will sound the buzzer proportionally to the amount of light hitting the photoresistor. The practical uses are immense: for instance, it can be stored in a chip to buzz anytime someone tries to sneak a snack.