Microelectronics is a subfield of electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

. As the name suggests, microelectronics relates to the study and manufacture (or microfabrication
Microfabrication is the term that describes processes of fabrication of miniature structures, of micrometre sizes and smaller. Historically the earliest microfabrication processes were used for integrated circuit fabrication, also known as "semiconductor manufacturing" or "semiconductor device...

) of very small electronic components. Usually, but not always, this means micrometre-scale or smaller,. These devices are made from semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

s. Many components of normal electronic design are available in microelectronic equivalent: transistor
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

s, capacitor
A capacitor is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy in an electric field. The forms of practical capacitors vary widely, but all contain at least two electrical conductors separated by a dielectric ; for example, one common construction consists of metal foils separated...

s, inductor
An inductor is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy in a magnetic field. An inductor's ability to store magnetic energy is measured by its inductance, in units of henries...

s, resistor
A linear resistor is a linear, passive two-terminal electrical component that implements electrical resistance as a circuit element.The current through a resistor is in direct proportion to the voltage across the resistor's terminals. Thus, the ratio of the voltage applied across a resistor's...

s, diode
In electronics, a diode is a type of two-terminal electronic component with a nonlinear current–voltage characteristic. A semiconductor diode, the most common type today, is a crystalline piece of semiconductor material connected to two electrical terminals...

s and of course insulator
Electrical insulation
thumb|250px|[[Coaxial Cable]] with dielectric insulator supporting a central coreThis article refers to electrical insulation. For insulation of heat, see Thermal insulation...

s and conductor
Electrical conductor
In physics and electrical engineering, a conductor is a material which contains movable electric charges. In metallic conductors such as copper or aluminum, the movable charged particles are electrons...

s can all be found in microelectronic devices. Unique wiring techniques such as wire bonding
Wire bonding
Wire bonding is the primary method of making interconnections between an integrated circuit and a printed circuit board during semiconductor device fabrication. Although less common, wire bonding can be used to connect an IC to other electronics or to connect from one PCB to another...

 are also often used in microelectronics because of the unusually small size of the components, leads and pads. This technique requires specialized equipment and is expensive.

Digital integrated circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

s (ICs) consist mostly of transistors. Analog circuits commonly contain resistors and capacitors as well. Inductors are used in some high frequency analog circuits, but tend to occupy large chip area if used at low frequencies; gyrator
A gyrator is a passive, linear, lossless, two-port electrical network element proposed in 1948 by Tellegen as a hypothetical fifth linear element after the resistor, capacitor, inductor and ideal transformer. Unlike the four conventional elements, the gyrator is non-reciprocal...

s can replace them in many applications.

As techniques improve, the scale of microelectronic components continues to decrease. At smaller scales, the relative impact of intrinsic circuit properties such as interconnections may become more significant. These are called parasitic effects, and the goal of the microelectronics design engineer is to find ways to compensate for or to minimize these effects, while always delivering smaller, faster, and cheaper devices.

See also

  • Analog circuit
  • Digital circuit
    Digital circuit
    Digital electronics represent signals by discrete bands of analog levels, rather than by a continuous range. All levels within a band represent the same signal state...

  • Electrical engineering
    Electrical engineering
    Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

  • Kelvin probe force microscope
    Kelvin probe force microscope
    Kelvin probe force microscopy , also known as surface potential microscopy, is a noncontact variant of atomic force microscopy that was invented in 1991. With KPFM, the work function of surfaces can be observed at atomic or molecular scales...

  • Macroelectronics
    For over half of century, the technology of microelectronics has been advancing by miniaturization, leading to significant increases in computing power and continuous decreases in manufacturing cost...

  • Nanoelectronics
    Nanoelectronics refer to the use of nanotechnology on electronic components, especially transistors. Although the term nanotechnology is generally defined as utilizing technology less than 100 nm in size, nanoelectronics often refer to transistor devices that are so small that inter-atomic...

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