Microelectronics: A substantial ingredient in circuitry

By: Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times

Microelectronics is becoming the significant nerve of the modern world. It has touched every aspect of modern life. One cannot imagine a world without personal computers, cell phones, fax machines, camcorders, stereo players, televisions, microwave ovens, calculators, etc.

In addition to consumer products, microelectronic devices have also permeated many critical areas in medical, aerospace, and military applications. In such critical applications, reliable performance of electronic packages is extremely important. Numerous systems, such as missiles, jet fighters, and nuclear bombs, are either guided or controlled by electronic devices

For instance, an automotive engine rely on electronic ignition and control systems to increase fuel efficiency and to reduce emissions, smart airbags rely on electronic sensing to adjust their inflation to provide collision protection without injuring the passengers and driver in unfamiliar streets, In all these areas, it is clearly evident that the microelectronics has always acted as a stimulant.

Microelectronics is undergoing a phenomenal transformation while being in sync with technological advancements such as IoT (internet of Things) or AI (artificial Intelligence) observed across the globe. Data storage such as hybrid cloud storage, next generation displays such as Micro LED displays, wireless charging, flexible electronics, GaN-based power electronics and structural electronics are key innovations, which will have a significant impact across industries ranging from banking, education to aerospace and defence.

Explorations and Growth

Microelectronics is undergoing a phenomenal transformation while being in sync with technological advancements such as IoT (internet of Things) or AI (artificial Intelligence) observed across the globe.

Advances in microelectronics technology have made it possible to build inexpensive, low-power miniature sensing devices. Equipped with a microprocessor, memory, radio, and battery, such devices can now combine the functions of sensing, computing, and wireless communication into miniature smart sensor nodes. Several applications of such wireless sensor networks have been proposed, and there have also been several experimental deployments.

Example applications are:

Ecological monitoring: wild-life in conservation areas, remote lakes, forest fires

Monitoring of large structures: bridges, buildings, ships, and large machinery, such as turbines

Industrial measurement and control: measurement of various environment and process parameters in very large factories, such as continuous process chemical plants

Defence applications: monitoring of intrusion into remote border areas; detection, identification, and tracking of intruding personnel or vehicles

Without microelectronics there would be no computers, no cars, no industrial production and no identity cards as we know them today. Microelectronics is one of the most important key technologies for innovations. Either integrated into new products or serving as the technological basis for services, microelectronics offers solutions to important societal and economic challenges. Regardless of whether the application in question involves drives and sensor systems for sustainable and intelligent mobility, diagnosis systems for a healthy life, communications building blocks for the digital revolution in society or industry, or grid control systems for a sustainable energy supply: Microelectronic systems are a fundamental prerequisite for competitiveness.

Most people regularly use products whose manufacture and operations significantly depend on microelectronics. The importance of microelectronics for the digitalisation of many areas of life and for value creation and the competitiveness is of great importance. The electronic systems of the future will be characterised by a strong degree of miniaturisation and, at the same time, will have to fulfil demanding requirements such as, autonomy, network capability, reliability, safety and energy efficiency. These multifunctional systems combine many component parts.

Microelectronics is an important interdisciplinary technology. In all cases where electrical energy is used, it has to be distributed, transformed or controlled. Important applications include power supply in industrial processes, drive technology, information and communication technologies, and lighting equipment.

Industry 4.0 refers to the coming together of production and information technologies. It offers the opportunity to bring the flexibility and the energy and resource efficiency of production processes to the next level using intelligent control and networking. Electronics and sensor systems play a key role in microelectronics. The required hardware is based on complex microelectronics systems for the recording, processing and exchanging of data and for controlling equipment. Various sensors and measurement procedures need to be used and combined for these applications. As a result, the complexity of microelectronics systems is increasing; at the same time, these systems also have to meet up expectations such as performance, reliability, robustness and energy efficiency.

Microelectronics makes the digitalisation of industry and commerce possible in the first place. However, technological expertise is not the only requirement: framework conditions, standards and regulations also play a decisive role in the success of the industry in the global competitive environment. These are to be discussed and advanced within the framework of the new Industry 4.0 platform.

Applications of Microelectronics

Innovation nowadays seems to be centred on information and communication systems, first of them all is microelectronics. There is no dispute in the fact that microelectronics has been a key driver of the scientific and technological processes that has made major contributions to the social and economic growth of mankind since the mid-20th century.

Micro-electronics has also affected our lifestyles in so many other ways, making our everyday routine a little more comfortable. For example, nowadays it is easy to find a complete kitchen system which enables us to set the oven to a predefined temperature and cook our meal while we surf the internet or perhaps communicate with our friends through social networks which have become very popular. Other home appliances, like washing machines or electric water heaters, can be set in motion using the internet, from practically any location. Micro-electronics has also contributed effectively in administering the use of electricity more efficiently. Today’s appliances incorporate sensors and controllers which continuously monitor energy consumption and if there is anything which is not being used in-turn they will turn it off in order to consume less power.

Microelectronics have played important roles in humanity and other sectors such as:

Mobile phones and telecommunication systems

Multimedia applications and digital media systems

Computing and networking.

Cleaner production processes for factories

Safer vehicles and better performing medical systems

Having analysed the economic importance of microelectronics and nanotechnology, there seems to be a well-defined path for future growth on a larger scale. Microelectronics will keep on growing in the future with the same pace as in the past. This implies enormous challenges in technics, economy and education.

Simultaneously it opens up huge chances for semiconductor and application industries. The progress of microelectronics leads to an exponential growth of “artificial intelligence”. This will help solving the serious challenges in various areas of daily life, e.g. in traffic and medicine, in office and manufacturing, in environment and resourcing, in human and machine communication and, last but not least, in working and leisure.

Here are some of the areas of microelectronics application boosting the electronic industry:

Flexible Electronics

Flexible electronics is a promising and emerging industry that is hoped to have a stronger impact on the electronic industry in the nearer future. The technology presented by flexible electronics makes it possible to easily implement new applications that were sometimes not feasible to attain before now. This includes applications such as smart textiles and informative human interfaces.

3D Integration

This technology allows several traditional device layers to be placed on stacks and interconnected electronically. As an emerging technology, the trend is its support for more functional and powerful devices that are smaller and of low cost. Stacking of many layers of a device can improve performance of the circuit and lower power consumption. The 3D integration principle provides manufacturers the flexibility to combine other heterogeneous devices into a single circuit.

Haptic Touch Screen

The touch technology has brought a new approach to interacting with our devices. This allows human-computer relationship using various physical contacts with a device such as gestures and touch. The major applications of this technology are in consumer electronics, medical, automotive, in industry and in-home automation.

Smart Grids

A smart grid provides an electricity network which intelligently integrates all actions of users linked to it, that is, the generators and the consumers. This is in a bid to deliver economical, secure and sustainable supplies. A smart grid creates enhancement in grid reliability by cutting down on the rate of power outages and the amount of power quality inadequacies.

Green Electronics

The push by the government for green manufacturing is a driver to the innovations in microelectronics for product design. Production are tailored towards energy efficiency, green and clean solutions. This technology incorporates power saving capability, eco-friendliness such as reduced carbon emissions using microelectronics.

Wireless Charging

The use of electric cars and adopting smart devices are motivation for advancement in microelectronic technology. Wireless charging of automotive device and electronics are possibilities through microelectronics. Companies are gearing up to fully adopting wireless charging methods.

Smart Antennas

Smart connection devices have opened up the manufacture of other smart application. Communication via smart devices such as antennas is made feasible through the application of microelectronics and semiconductor implementation.

Data Storage

With microelectronics technology, utilization in the development of cloud-based and enterprise storage systems are the future of data storage. Software-based storage solutions are frantically pursued. The transformation in the digital sector encourages the adoption of such data storage solutions that are driven by microelectronics.

Wearable Technology

The application of microelectronics has helped tremendously in the design of devices that we attach on our bodies. As a great innovation from this implementation wristbands, wearable displays, pendants and other fashionable healthcare products are designed to monitor an individual’s wellbeing.

Military & Aerospace

Enabling Technology by Air, Sea, Land and Space. Military and aerospace application requirements are unique and demanding. Microelectronics can design these product to meet special requirements to operate as intended. Physical protection from harsh environments through over-moulding and encapsulation are also the topics researched in the corresponding fields and defence sectors.

Advancements and Outlook for the future

Microelectronic, photonic, and optoelectronic devices based on semiconductors currently constitute the core technologies of tablet PCs, smart phones, GPS navigation systems, high-definition flat-panel displays, digital cameras, information processing technologies, and sensors for automobiles. In all, microelectronics technology based on semiconductor devices and integrated circuits has changed daily lives. These devices extend their influence to several sectors, including communications, space, medicine, and defence. Accordingly, the performance, functionality, and cost of semiconductor devices determine the added value of many of the previously mentioned commercial products.

The demand for microelectronics is going to enhance the speed and storage capacity of these next-generation devices. The development of integrated circuits and semiconductor devices has revolutionized the society from communication to information storage to transportation and media. The creation and implementation of a wide variety of digital devices to our daily lives would not be possible without these technologies

Mankind is now on the brink of another major change. The future increase in capacity and decrease in cost of microelectronic devices has not only given rise to compact and powerful hardware but also bring qualitative changes in the way human beings and computers interact within a substantial role in the world of circuitry

By: Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times

LEAVE A REPLY