How Integrated Circuits Work, Physically?

Integrated Circuits are defined as the circuit that comprises elements that are inseparable and interconnected electrically in such a way that the IC cannot be separated for the reason of commerce and construction. Myriad technologies can be used to build such a circuit. Today what we call an IC, was originally known as a monolithic integrated circuit. It is believed that Kilby created the first working IC back in 1958 and he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000 for his hard work. The first buyer for this invention was the US Air Force.

What is an Integrated Circuit?

Integrated circuit (IC), sometimes called a chip or microchip, is a semiconductor wafer on which a thousand or millions of tiny resistors, capacitors, and transistors are fabricated. An IC can be a function as an amplifier, oscillator, timer, counter, computer memory, or microprocessor. An exact IC is categorized as either linear (analog) or digital depending on its future application. Integrated circuits distorted all that. The fundamental idea was to obtain a complete circuit, with lots of components and the connections between them, and reconstruct the whole thing in a microscopically tiny form on the surface of a piece of silicon. It was an incredibly clever idea and it has made possible all kinds of “microelectronic” gadgets ranging from digital watches and pocket calculators to Moon-landing rockets and arms with built-in satellite navigation.

How are Integrated Circuits Made?

How do we build a memory or processor chip for a computer? It all starts with a raw compound element such as silicon, which is chemically treated or doped to create it and it has different electrical properties.

Integrated Circuit Symbol
Integrated Circuit Symbol

Doping Semiconductors

Conventionally, people think about equipment fitting into two neat categories: those that allow electricity to flow through them quite readily (conductors) and those that don’t (insulators). Metals make up most of the conductors, while nonmetals such as plastics, wood, and glass are the insulators. In fact, the effects are far more complex than this, particularly when it comes to defining elements in the center of the periodic table (in groups 14 and 15), notably silicon and germanium. Usually, insulators are the elements that are prepared to perform more like conductors if we insert small quantities of impurities to them in a procedure known as doping.

Integrated Circuit Design
Integrated Circuit Design

If you add antimony to silicon, you provide it slightly extra electrons than it would usually include the power to conduct electricity. Silicon “doped” that way is called n-type silicon. When you add boron instead of antimony, you take away some of silicon’s electrons, leaving behind “holes” that work as “negative electrons,”; next, transport a positive electric current in the opposite way. Such type of silicon is called p-type. Putting areas of n-type and p-type silicon side by side to create junctions wherein electrons act in very attractive ways is the way in which we generate electronically, semiconductor devices like diodes, transistors, and memories.

Inside a Chip Plant

The procedure of manufacturing of an integrated circuit starts with a big single crystal of silicon, shaped like a long solid pipe, which is “salami sliced” into thin discs (about the size of a compact disc) called wafers. The wafers are marked out in a lot of identical square or rectangular areas, each of which will build up a single silicon chip (sometimes called a microchip). Thousands, millions, or billions of apparatus are then produced on each chip by doping dissimilar areas of the surface to turn them into n-type or p-type silicon.


Inside Chip Working
Inside Chip Working

Doping is completed by a multiplicity of different processes. In one of them, known as sputtering, ions of the doping material are fired at the silicon wafer just like bullets from a gun. One more procedure called vapor deposition involves introducing the doping material as gas and letting it concentrate such that the impurity atoms generate a thin film on the surface of the silicon wafer. Molecular beam epitaxial is a much more accurate form of the statement.

Of course, building-integrated circuits that pack hundreds, millions, or billions of apparatus onto a fingernail-sized chip of silicon is all a bit more difficult than it sounds. Imagine the chaos when a dot of dirt could reason when you work at the microscopic (or sometimes even the Nanoscopic) scale. That’s why semiconductors are prepared in spotless laboratory environments called clean rooms, where the air is scrupulously filtered and employees have to pass in and out through airlocks exhausting all kinds of protecting clothing.

Types of Integrated Circuits

The different types of an integrated circuit which includes the following

Digital Integrated Circuits

This kind of IC has two defined levels:1’s and 0’s which implies that they work on binary mathematics wherein 1 stand for on and 0 stands for off. Such ICs are accomplished diligently as they contain more than millions of flip flops, logic gates and whatnot, all incorporated into a single chip. Examples of digital IC include microcontrollers and microprocessors.

Types of Integrated Circuits
Types of Integrated Circuits
  • Logic ICs
  • Memory Chips,
  • Interface ICs (level shifters, serializer/de-serializer, etc.)
  • Power Management ICs
  • Programmable Devices

Analog Integrated Circuits

The analog integrated circuits works by tackling continuous signals and is capable of performing tasks such as a filtering, amplification, demodulation and modulation etc. Sensors, OP-AMP’s are essentially Analog ICs.

  • Linear ICs
  • RF ICs

Mixed Signal

When the digital and analog ICs are used on a single chip; the resultant IC is known as mixed signal integrated circuits.

  • Data Acquisition ICs (including A/D converters, D/A converter, digital potentiometers)
  • Clock/timing ICs

Uses of Integrated Circuits

The integrated circuit uses a semiconductor material (read chips) as the working table and frequently silicon is selected for the task. Afterwards, electrical components such as diodes, transistors and resistors, etc. are added to this chip in minimized form. Electrical components are joined together in such a way that they are able to carry out multiple tasks and calculations. The silicon is known as a wafer in this assembly.

Applications of Integrated Circuits

The applications of an ICs includes the following

  • Radar
  • Wristwatches
  • Televisions
  • Juice Makers
  • PC
  • Video Processors
  • Audio Amplifiers
  • Memory Devices
  • Logic Devices
  • Radio Frequency Encoders and Decoders

In this article, we have discussed about the integrated circuit briefly including what is an integrated circuit, how integrated circuits are made, and so on. Two types of methods have been used to build integrated circuits with  the help of a doping semiconductor, inside chip plant. We have dealt with the different types of integrated circuits like digital integrated circuits, analog integrated circuits and finally mixed signals with examples. In addition uses of integrated circuit and applications of integrated circuits have also been discussed.

Furthermore, for any queries regarding this concept or to implement the electrical and electronics projects, please give your valuable suggestions by commenting in the comment section below. Here is a question for you, what is the main function of an IC?

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