The world of microelectronics


Switching on a portable radio transistor, a low-wave TV-set, looking at an electronic watch or counting on a micro-calculator, we hardly give thought to the idea of how these devices work — so common are they in our lives. What has brought them into being? How do miniature apparata perform complicated operations in general? These miniature devices, one of the greatest achievements of scientific and technologi­cal progress, are functioning on the basis of microelectronic circuits. Microelectronics, a section of semiconductor elec­tronics, is developing at a rapid pace. It defines the technical and elemental base of cybernetics, instrument engineering as well as the efficiency of research and thus influences the scientific and technological potential of the country.

A great role belongs to microelectronics in our national economy. Its appearance and intensive development was caused by the necessity of using a great quantity of active elements: diodes, transistors, variable capacitors.

Semiconductor elements are usually presented in a micro­miniaturized form: they are arranged in a single crystal, though their quantity sometimes exceeds hundreds of thou­sands. But this is a unique apparatus, a very complicated circuit which performs quite a number of processes. Such devices have acquired the name of integrated circuits. The "cleverest" of them perform the function of "logical thinking" and carry out rather a complicated operation of processing information. They have been called microprocessors.

At the base of modern microelectronic devices lie semicon­ductor elements. Microelectronics itself is based on planar technology and photolithography. Integral circuit is a com­plicated structure with its ways, sluices and quick-working gates for the flows of electrons which are carriers of informa­tion. They are able to act at command just as to work indepen­dently. And that means that the electrons can create a new process, direct operations, think over and carry out such complicated calculations that are inaccessible even to a great number of qualified specialists.

The history of microelectronics is not so long: 1947 saw the creation of the first semiconductor transistor on which applied semiconductor electronics is based. Ten years later, in 1958, the first integrated circuit appeared. Industrial production of integrated circuits began in 1960s. First they consisted of several elements, later the count went by the hundred, at present supergreat integrated circuits count several hundreds of thousands of elements in one crys­tal.

No branch in the history of technique has ever lived througli such a rapid growth. The level of the development of micro­electronics defines the level of all computers and data process­ing as well as diverse complicated systems of electronic automation.

There is a great social demand for creating automata of wide application (up . to robot including), for construct­ing new computers and complexes facilitating the work of people.


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