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Dec 18th 2017

Common Questions About: The Integrated Circuit

We hear a lot of common questions about integrated circuits. This ranges from their uses and functions, to their manufacture and definition. In this article we'll be answering these questions.

What is an integrated circuit?

An integrated circuit is a semiconductor wafer with many tiny resistors, capacitors and transistors fabricated onto it. It can also be called a chip or microchip. It has a wide variety of functions. This includes as a microprocessor, amplifier, oscillator, timer or as computer memory.

What is an integrated circuit used for?

Integrated circuits are used in cars, televisions, computers, mobile phones, watches and many many more.

Advantages of integrated circuits

Integrated circuits have many advantages. This is why they're used in so many products and devices.

  • They take up very little space
  • They're cost effective
  • Low power consumption due to their size
  • Easy to replace
  • Fast operating speed
  • Adaptable to higher temperatures
  • Reliable

Disadvantages of integrated circuits

Integrated circuits aren't perfect. Disadvantaged of integrated circuits include:

  • All components are integrated on the chip. This means that if a component fails, the whole integrated circuit must be replaced
  • Fairly limited power rating
  • Fragile in terms of handling
  • Inductors and transformers exterior to the semiconductor chip are needed as it's not possible to fabricate them onto the chip
  • High saturation resistance of transistors
  • Resistors and capacitors have voltage dependence

How to test an integrated circuit with a multimeter

A multimeter can be used to test for short circuits, voltages, current and resistance. It's important to have a data sheet about the integrated circuit in this instance in order to reference against the test results. Using the multimeter you should be looking for a match with the information on the sheet. It's useful to test your integrated circuit without connecting it in order to prevent any failure or damage to the circuit.

Integrated circuits vs printed circuit boards

An integrated circuit is created initially from a disk made of silicon containing many chips. It's then sawn to separate it into individual chips. The chip is placed into the housing with pins. This means it serves different functions and devices than a printed circuit board. Depending on your device or intention, you'll need to calculate which one you need.

Integrated circuit fabrication process

An integrated circuit in its simplest form is a semiconductor wafer with millions of components fabricated onto it. In short, the steps can be found below:

  1. Wafer production
  2. Masking
  3. Etching
  4. Doping
  5. Metallization
  6. Assembly and packaging

For more detail, please check out this comprehensive Mepits article.

We hope this helped all of you out there seeking more information about integrated circuits. If you have a question that hasn't been answered here, please let us know and we'd be happy to get back to you.