Microelectronics


What is microelectronics?

Microelectronics or nanoelectronics is one of the most dynamically developing fields of technology in the world. It deals with the design and fabrication of semiconductor components based on submicron technologies, starting from the simplest diodes, over transistors to integrated circuits, the so called very large scale integration (VLSI) chips. It means that on a small area of several square mm we are able to produce chips such as converters, filters, memories, 64-bit microprocessors and other components. Nowadays, integrated circuits and components can be found in all electronic products. Without microelectronics there would not be computers, mobile phones, TV sets, simply said no modern electronic devices.

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And the design, development and testing of circuits are among the key areas of interest at the Department of Microelectronics, being in the focus of our teaching and research activities. Our target is to offer customized designs, to manufacture and operate our products efficiently. Actually, the area of microelectronics encompasses a wide scope of science and technology, including circuit technology, physics and chemistry. As one person cannot become an expert in all these areas of science and technology, the students can select specializations corresponding with their interests and abilities.

What is the future of microelectronics in the Czech Republic? It is not generally known that there are a many companies in the Czech Republic making use of microelecronic technology, and looking for specialists in microelectronics. Such professions are in high demand, but there are only few specialists owing to the low interest of young people in technical sciences. You will find information on this dynamically developing field of science on these websites.


Fabrication of integrated circuits

The process starts with tonnes of sand mined from quartz rocks. The sand is used to produce silicon crystal (more accurately monocrystalline silicon) – a cylindrical rod roughly one meter long. Next, the rod is cut with a diamond saw into thin slices (wafers) of approximately the compact disk size. Now, the disk may be up to 30 cm in diameter.

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Then, by projection similar to that used in photography the geometrical structure of the designed integrated circuit is transferred onto silicon wafers. Physical-chemical processes are utilized to deposit atomic quantities of chemical impurities onto the wafer surface. The presence of impurities will cause conductivity changes in silicon. Areas of different conductivities then create bases for elements of electronic circuits. The way the elements are bonded determines the characteristics of the circuit. When the process has been completed, each wafer, which can contain nearly one thousand of megabit memories SRAM, is cut into identical circuits. And because even a tiny particle of dust can damage the whole circuit, all circuits are electronically tested. Finally, each circuit is packaged in a plastic or ceramic package and is ready for use (e.g. DRAM memory or microprocessor).

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