Integrated Circuits & Chips

Invented in 1958, this monolithic integrated circuit (IC, chip or microchip) is a set of electronic circuits on one small plate (chip) of semiconductor material, usually silicon. Consisting of resistors, transistors and so on , it is much smaller than a discrete circuit of independent electronic components. The IC is a complex layering of semiconductor wafers, copper and other materials whose interconnections enable it to carry out its functions. As the connections are so intricate, a combination of wafers (or die) is packaged as a black chip. Different packages of dies have a unique dimension, mounting-types and/or pin counts. All ICs are polarised and every pin is unique in its location and function. The pins can be mounted in two ways: through-hole (PTH) or surface-mount (SMD). The former are generally bigger and are soldered whilst the latter require special assembly tools because of their size. The most common through-hole is the DIP (dual in-line packages) while small-outline, quad flat and ball grid arrays are some of the many surface-mount packages. They are classified as analogue, digital or mixed signal. Integrated circuits and chips are the key to the electronics revolution and are basic components of any device that is used today whether it is a telephone or satellite navigation.

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