Integrated Circuit

In electronics, an integrated circuit (also known as IC, chip, or microchip) is a miniaturized electronic circuit (consisting mainly of semiconductor devices, as well as passive components) that has been manufactured in the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material. Integrated circuits are used in almost all electronic equipment in use today and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, cellular phones, and other digital appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the low cost of production of integrated circuits.

A hybrid integrated circuit is a miniaturized electronic circuit constructed of individual semiconductor devices, as well as passive components, bonded to a substrate or circuit board. A monolithic integrated circuit is made of devices manufactured by diffusion of trace elements into a single piece of semiconductor substrate, a chip.

Integrated circuits were made possible by experimental discoveries which showed that semiconductor devices could perform the functions of vacuum tubes and by mid-20th-century technology advancements in semiconductor device fabrication. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip was an enormous improvement over the manual assembly of circuits using electronic components. The integrated circuit's mass production capability, reliability, and building-block approach to circuit design ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors.

There are two main advantages of ICs over discrete circuits: cost and performance. Cost is low because the chips, with all their components, are printed as a unit by photolithography rather than being constructed one transistor at a time. Furthermore, much less material is used to construct a packaged IC die than a discrete circuit. Performance is high since the components switch quickly and consume little power (compared to their discrete counterparts) because the components are small and positioned close together. As of 2006, chip areas range from a few square millimeters to around 350 mm2, with up to 1 million transistors per mm2.

Posted 2010-12-14 and updated on Dec 14, 2010 3:59pm by crisd

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