Integrated Circuit

C Mitchell

Integrated circuits are a kind of computer component used in most modern electrical objects: toasters, cell phones, amplifiers, TV’s, CD players, cars, and of course computers, to list a few. It is a highly sophisticated version of a normal electric circuit, a device used for turning on and off electricity and amplifying it. They are usually made of silicon, a semiconductor, and contain three major components: resistors, capacitors and diodes. Resistors are used to “resist” or control the amount of electricity that passes. Capacitors quickly collect electric energy, store it, and release it in a short burst. Diodes also regulate the flow of electrical current.

The way these three “building blocks” of circuits Integrated circuits can be rearranged to make many different kinds of electrical devices.
Integrated circuits are classified by the number of transistors and other components they contain:
• Up to 100 per chip: small-scale integration (SSI)
• 100 to 3,000 per chip: medium-scale integration (MSI)
• 3,000 to 100,000 per chip: large-scale integration (LSI)
• 100,000 to 1,000,000 per chip: very large-scale integration (VLSI)
• 1 million or more per chip: ultra large-scale integration (ULSI)
They are also calculated by being analog, digital, or mixed signal (both on the same chip).



The integrated circuit was invented by American Jack Kilby (born in 1923), an esteemed engineer holding fifty patents, including monolithic integrated circuits, reduced titanate capacitors, semiconductor thermal printers, and handheld calculators.
Before the invention of the transistor, vacuum tubes the only technology for switching on and off electric current and amplifying it. Vacuum tubes were, however, not ideal for many things. They were large and bulky and had a tendency to burn out. In 1947, a group of scientists, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley, set out to solve the problem. They invented the transistor; a much smaller, more effective, more reliable technology. The integrated circuit could never have been built without it.

The groundwork was then laid for Jack Kilby. As an engineer at Texas Instruments, he wrote this in his laboratory notebook in 1958: "The following circuit elements could be made on a single slice (of silicon): resistors, capacitor, distributed capacitor, transistor." This idea became the basis for the modern integrated circuit, and he made the first one later that year. This first one was a little crude and had some problems, it was truly revolutionary.

Later, in 2000, Jack Kilby won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention.


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