Have you ever heard of a computer chip? Inside one of these tiny devices, entire circuits exist and they can perform a wide range of functions. In fact, if you look at most circuit boards today, you’ll see at least one of these little chips in the integrated circuit design. But what function do these chips perform and why are they so important to the electronics and computer industries today? Let’s look closer and see.
In order to understand integrated circuitry, it’s best to have a basic understanding of electrical circuits and how they operate. Electricity is created when there is an imbalance of electrons within atoms. Electrons flow from one source to another in an attempt to balance themselves out by reaching the ground and this is basically how electricity flows through circuits.
A circuit can as simple as:
* Power source (like a battery)
* Wire (used for a conductor)
* Switch (used to control power)
* Source (like a light bulb)
In a typical light circuit, battery flows from the negative terminal to the wire and then to the switch. When the switch is on, power goes through the switch to the light bulb elements and from the elements to the positive terminal of the battery. This completes the circuit and lights the bulb. When the switch is turned off, it interrupts the flow of electricity, turning the bulb off.
What is an Integrated Circuit (IC)?
An IC consists of a chip made from semiconductor material. This technology makes it possible to utilize thousands of electronic components in one small area. But what actually is a semiconductor?
Semiconductors and Modern Electronics
“Semi” means partial and “conductor” means to control or carry something and in the case of an electrical conductor, it is a material (like metal) capable of carrying electrical current. So, a semi-conductor has the ability to carry current sometimes and other times it cannot. This makes it very unique because most things are either conductors or insulators.
Although elements like carbon, boron and sulphur are semiconductors, the most common element used for integrated circuit design is silicon. Semiconductors can be used to perform the same functions once requiring vacuum tubes.
Back to Chips
An IC chip can either be analog or digital in nature. Analog ICs (also called linear circuits) are commonly used to amplify RF or radio frequency waves. Digital ICs are designed to operate at specific frequencies and are commonly found in computers and modems. Digital circuits work on binary logic in which all data is either true or false or combinations of both.
This concludes the basic discussion of integrated circuit design. Thanks to this technology we can enjoy all the smart electronic devices available today.
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