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All about Integrated Circuits


An integrated circuit (IC) also known as a microchip is an electronic device that consists of a set of electronic components such as transistors, resistors and capacitors. Integrated circuits have revolutionized the history of electronics and today, they are used in almost all electronic devices. The first integrated circuit was developed separately by Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor in the late 50s. Depending on its intended use, an integrated circuit is classified as analog, digital and mixed signal.

Integrated circuits are quite small and can vary in sizes from a few square centimeters to a few square millimeters. Some of the simplest forms of integrated circuits are analog circuits which uses only a few components. Analog circuits are typically connected to devices that are responsible for collecting and sending information from and to the environment. A good example of this would be a microphone which converts vocal sounds into electrical signals. An analog circuit modifies the electrical signal by amplifying or filtering it. The signal is then fed back to a loudspeaker, which would replicate the tones picked up by the microphone. Analog circuits are also useful in controlling a particular device in response to changes in the environment. A practical example would that be of a temperature sensor.

On the other hand, a digital circuit is designed in such a way that it accepts voltages of only specific given values. It is important to note that digital circuits typically work best with low voltage signals. Digital circuits are more capable of handling lower voltage signals than higher voltage signals. Mixed signal circuits combine both analog and digital circuits on a single microchip. Mixed signal integrated circuits are small in size and low in cost. When an integrated circuit performs only a single specific function, then it is called an application-specific IC. An application specific integrated circuit can be either digital or analog circuit.

Integrated circuits are a vital component of all electronics that we use today. They are used in a variety of devices such as automobiles, aircrafts, cell phones, computers and home appliances.

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