© Getty Images

Believe it or not, this is an equipment breakdown

Every business depends on microscopic technology, which is becoming more complex every day. And it's not just computers: Boilers, air conditioners, furnaces, diagnostic equipment, CNC machines, retail point-of-sale systems; all of which are prone to microelectronic damage.

A speck of dust straddling two electrical circuits on a computer chip

Dust on a microchip
© The Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company of Canada
When combined with humidity and other vapours in the air, this particle can cause arcing between components on circuit boards. And certain types of dust, when combined with humidity, can even be slightly corrosive to electrical components and cause them to break down.

A fractured silicon wafer

Fractured silicon wafer
© Gettyimages

This silicon wafer serves as a base for microelectronics built in and upon the wafer. The fractures or cracks can be seen in the upper right of the image.

During manufacture, silicon wafer preparation and handling can result in damage in the form of micro-cracks at the edges of the wafers. 

While the damage may initially be harmless, under some conditions, such as increased temperatures, the micro-crack may later increase dramatically, finally cutting the wafer into pieces, resulting in failure of the circuit, and causing the equipment to stop working.

Technology is now the size of DNA

A strand of hair causing a microelectronic fault
© Getty Images

Today, more than 100 million transistors could fit on the head of a pin. These transistors are so small, just 22 nanometers, that you could fit 4,000 of them across the width of a human hair.  

A strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter.  We are dealing with technology that is only a little larger than DNA. 

Physical damage to microelectronics is way too small to be seen

Most equipment breakdown policies require visual evidence of physical damage for coverage to apply. This is where a specialist insurer, like HSB, can help.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content herein. Under no circumstances shall HSB or any party involved in creating or delivering this article be liable to you for any loss or damage that results from the use of the information contained herein.