Integrated Circuits (ICs):

What is an Integrated Circuit (IC)?

The IC or Integrated Circuit is a collection of electronic components fabricated together as a single unit. An integrated circuit can be a combination of passive devices such as resistors and capacitors and active devices such as transistors and diodes: these devices and the connections between them on a thin surface of a semiconductor material like silicon. Integrated circuits are also commonly known as microchips, microelectronic circuits, or simply chips. The circuit resulting can be as small as a few square millimeters or up to several centimeters. Each of these components is relatively microscopic (Saint, 2006).


How is an IC made?

The manufacturing process of an IC consists of the following six steps:

Pure silicon crystals pass through long cylinders and slice into thin wafers, and then later cut down into several chips.

These wafers are then heated and coated with silicon dioxide. We use ultraviolet blue to add a protective layer called photoresist.

Etching is to remove some photoresist from the surface by using chemicals to make a pattern. This pattern shows the areas, which would get the n-type and p-type silicon.

The etched wafers are once again heated with impure gases to make p-type and n-type silicon areas.

For testing purposes, a long metal wire from the testing machines is connected to the terminals of the chip and is tested using a computer. The chips that do not perform well during this test are marked as rejected.

The approved chips are cut out of the wafers and then packed with plastic protection making the IC ready for electronic components (Woodford, 2020).


What are different types of ICs?

We can classify integrated circuits into two basic types, including analog circuits and digital circuits. 

  • Analog Design: 

Also known as linear circuits, analog circuits are composed of only a few components and are considered one of the simplest types of Integrated Circuits. Analog circuits are usually connected to devices that take an infinitely variable real-world voltage or current measurement and modify it somehow. An analog circuit can be used to amplify or compare a signal, mix two or more signals, separate a signal from another and examine it for its value. 

  • Digital Design: 

A digital circuit is much more complex than an analog one and usually consists of many times as many components as an analog circuit. Such an extensive circuit design is made by copying and reusing the same circuit functions using digital design software. These digital design software usually come with libraries full of commonly used pre-structured circuits. As compared to an analog circuit, a digital circuit only accepts voltages of specific values. Some digital circuits, such as a binary circuit, operate using two states only, i.e., the Boolean Algebraic logic as 1 and 0, representing the two states on and off. 

  • Mixed Signals: 

When analog and digital integrated circuits are used together on a chip, the resulting IC is called mixed-signal IC (Saint, 2006).


How does an IC work?

The working of an IC is quite similar to that of an oscillator, timer, amplifier, and microprocessor. All IC components are responsible for executing various computations of data through either digital or analog technology. Digital ICs are the most common ones and use logic gates, working with 0s and 1s. Transmission of a low signal can occur to a component over a digital integrated circuit giving a value of 0. Similarly, the transmission of a high signal generates a value of 1. On the other hand, analog or linear ICs work with continuous values. (Elprocus, n.d.).


What are the applications of ICs?

Integrated Circuits are one of the essential components of all electronic things. An IC is in almost every electronic device, be it as simple as an LED bulb or as complex as a supercomputer. Typical applications of ICs include transducers, temperature sensors, logic units, amplifiers, counters and radio receivers, etc.


Who manufactures ICs?

Several companies have been manufacturing integrated circuits such as:

  • Allied Electronics (founded in 1928 and offers a wide range of ICs such as for power management, amplifier, sensor, data converter as well as analog interface), 
  • Derf Electronics Corporation (started business in 1946 and distributes ICs, converter and other electronic components, 
  • Net source Technology (offers switch analog and step-up ICs, established in 1997),  
  • 20/20 Components (started business in 2009 and distributes, apart from ICs, obsolete industrial, commercial and military components), 
  • GLF integrated power (offers power protection, power control as well as analog integrated circuits)
  • Mouser Electronics, 
  • Active-Semi, 
  • Vishay.


Where to buy ICs?

Most IC manufacturers do not directly sell to the consumers and instead use distribution networks as intermediaries to sell their products to their end consumers. However, the absence of a well-developed distribution network hinders the easy purchase of these ICs. This is where BD electronics Ltd. steps in. Having a great network of manufacturers and suppliers, BD electronics Ltd has access to almost every type of electronic component that you might require for your project needs. This includes ICs of digital, analog, and mixed nature. The online nature of our store ensures that we overcome any territorial issues a traditional distribution network might face. So if you require an IC, visit our website and easily find what you require. We would be more than happy to accommodate your customized needs according to your project requirements. We also make sure our customers have the best possible service and reasonable prices, which is a competitive edge. Across our entire product range, we provide fast and efficient delivery services while maintaining high standards in the functionality of products.

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