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Microelectronics And Integrated Circuits

  Microelectronics and Integrated Circuits continue to revolutionize the electronics industry. Following the invention of the point-contact transistor in 1947 at Bell Laboratories in the US, discrete transistor based circuits were found to have several technically limiting application factors. With the advent of the Cold War in the early 1950s, the need for complex and reliable electronic circuits for radar and missile systems, for example, was critical. This led to the development of integrated circuit (IC) technology.

The most significant contribution to IC technology was the planar production process developed by Fairchild Semiconductor in America in 1958. This created several circuit elements, using the recently developed process of diffusion and oxide masking, in a parallel plane to the semiconductor base material (see semiconductor device theory). Using this technique complex electrical circuits could be mass manufactured in very small packages, known as ‘silicon chips’. Eventually IC circuits were created that could not be built using discrete devices and offered greatly increased reliability and substantial cost savings.

The introduction of microelectronic devices and ICs relied heavily on advances in material and manufacturing technology, in particular to produce high-purity, defect-free silicon wafers. Since the early 1960s such advances have led to an unprecedented explosion in the use of ICs, which are used in everything from digital watches and personal computers to automatic satellite navigation systems. AC



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