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Microelectronics

Microelectronics

Microelectronics is a subfield of electronics that relates to the study and fabrication of very small electronic components and designs, usually at the micrometre-scale or below.

Microelectronics are usually semiconductor materials, including transistors, capacitors, inductors, resistors, diodes and gyrators. These materials and components are crucial to designing digital integrated circuits in modern day electronics, and microelectronics are cited as a driving factor in the overall electronics industry.

As microelectronic techniques have improved, the scale of these elements has steadily declined and transistor density on integrated circuits has risen. Gordon Moore, then-Director of Research & Development at Fairchild Semiconductor, extrapolated the increase in components per integrated circuit and predicted the number of components per chip would double every two years. The insight, now known as "Moore's Law", stayed true until approximately 2010, but has since slowed down to a rate closer to every 2.5 years.

Microelectronic companies and manufacturers
Semiconductor manufacturers

The semiconductor manufacturing industry is mostly made up on companies from the Asia-Pacific and US, and is recognized as a key driver in the entire electronics industry chain. The market capitalization of semiconductor firms exceeds $4 trillion USD globally. The industry has shown consistent cyclical growth with high volatility, showing periods of rapid growth followed by stagnation. The high rate of volatility is attributed to the flexibility and adaptation in order to adjust to technological advances in microelectronic manufacturing and innovation.

The industry is based upon a foundry model, which contains foundries that fabricate semiconductors and integrated circuits for separate companies and has led to the consolidation of manufacturers. As of 2021 only three firms (TSMC, Samsung, Intel) are capable of producing the most current and advanced semiconductors, due to the high cost of building foundries. TSMCs latest foundry, capable of fabricating 3 nm process semiconductors was completed in 2020 for a cost of $19.5 USD.

Silicon MOSFET conductors make up over 90% of the semiconductor market share, compared to just over half in 1980.

Semiconductor manufacturers

Timeline

2020
TSMC completes its newest foundry, capable of fabricating 3nm process semiconductors.
2011
Intel moves to finFETs at 22nm, following planar transistors reaching peak density at 20nm.
1959
Mohamad M. Atalla and Dawon Kahn invent the MOSFET transistor at Bell Labs.

Further Resources

Title
Author
Link
Type
Date

'ASSURE'ing Ultra-Secure, Ultra-Reliable Trusted Microelectronics

Steve Tally

Web

2019

References

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