SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KGO) -- Vice President Kamala Harris was in the Bay Area on Monday, helping to announce major news in the development of semiconductor chips.
The vice president's plane touched down at Moffett Field before 11 a.m. From there, she made her way to Sunnyvale's Applied Materials.
"Applied Materials is the company that builds the machines used by Intel and Samsung and Nvidia, so they can make chips," said Ahmed Banafa, tech expert and San Jose State engineering professor.
Semiconductor chips were exactly what the vice president was in the Bay Area to talk about.
VIDEO: VP Harris visits world's largest semiconductor tech site being built in Bay Area
"Semiconductors are the brain of modern technology," Harris said, "They're small chips, of silicon, usually no larger than a fingernail, and no thicker than a piece of paper. And they're essential to every electronic device that we currently use, from computers, to televisions, to air conditioners and washing machines."
But chip shortages have been a critical issue around the globe in recent years, all while demand grew.
With not enough chips to produce key components in products like cars, the vehicles became more expensive and the jobs of those who produce them were drastically cut.
"It was a lesson," Banafa said. "It was a big lesson, not only for the United States, (but) for all the countries to understand."
In August of 2022, Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, setting aside billions for semiconductor chips production and more.
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"What our administration has been able to do is invest $53 billion in semiconductor (research and development) and manufacturing," Harris said. "All, again, with the intention of spurring the innovation and the creativity."
The goal is to encourage more production of semiconductor chips here in the U.S.
Harris says the investments have led to Sunnyvale's Applied Materials' announcement made overnight, that a new semiconductor research and development facility is set to be built by early 2026
"When completed, it will be the largest such facility in the world," Harris said, "Of course, it will contain some of the most cutting edge technology, including machines that can build semiconductor components as thin as a single atom."
Research and development experts say will be critical to Silicon Valley maintaining its place as the hub of ever evolving technology.
"If we want to be a leader in the AI, even a leader of the technology, we have to have the hardware that's going to run all these technologies," Banafa said, "All of them built on chips and chips to build semiconductors and we are in Silicon Valley and silicon is the material used in semiconductors. This is why they call it Silicon Valley."
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